Skip to main content

Circles toward Indigenous solutions for kidney health: A strength-based approach

Vanessa Silva e Silva, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health Sciences, Queen's University
Kara Schick-Makaroff, Edmonton Clinic Health Academy, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta

What? Indigenous people in Canada have Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) up to four times more often than the non-Indigenous Canadian population. In addition to receiving fewer kidney transplants, Indigenous communities face numerous challenges in managing and treating kidney disease. Kidney disease necessitates frequent involvement within the health care system and ongoing complex medical procedures, such as kidney transplantation and dialysis. For some remote and isolated communities, travel costs, time commitments and lack of home dialysis hinders quality of life. In addition, further challenges exist with participation in health care systems delivered through non-Indigenous contexts. Understanding Indigenous knowledge systems (ways of being and knowing), is essential to promoting comprehensive health care that engages participation towards improved kidney health and well-being. This requires a relationship where traditions and customs as protocols are honored. This research will build upon strength-based approaches of the Indigenous knowledge systems that seeks solutions towards an improved care for Indigenous people living with CKD and ESRD.


Why? The goals of this research are to build partnerships with Indigenous peoples, stakeholders and community representatives to identify culturally-safe approaches to foster kidney health and prevention of kidney disease, increase kidney donation and transplantation and promote accessible or home dialysis modalities.


How? This research involves multiple methodologies consistent with Indigenous protocols and traditions, including elderly involvement in relational sharing “circle” community gatherings. Such gatherings involve participants that come together to form a circle where each participant has the opportunity to share meaningful perspectives regarding their experiences involving kidney health or disease. The stories that arise will iteratively inform and answer the research objectives, as well as offer direction for future initiatives.


Impact of the findings: The research holds promise to address the ways to increase kidney donation and transplants, and improve accessibility to dialysis and prevention of kidney disease through strength-based cultural approaches. In addition, this research will shape opportunities for further research to involve the development of culturally safe resources to offer education for both health care providers and Indigenous people living with kidney disease.