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Indigenous Education Project

Man on laptop

Dementia in Canada’s Indigenous populations is an emerging health issue. Given the legacy of colonialism, racism and marginalization, Indigenous people living with dementia face both complex health issues and barriers to access care and support. Whilst there is a growing body of literature to help us understand dementia within Indigenous communities, there is much that remains unknown. 

Indigenous researchers in Canada and elsewhere have begun to document the prevalence and causes of dementia, the experiences of people living with dementia and culturally appropriate support and care. Some studies seem to suggest that rates of dementia are increasing more rapidly among Indigenous people compared to others and that the age of onset may be earlier (e.g., Jacklin & Walker, 2012). However, this data remains uncertain, given dementia often goes unnoticed and undiagnosed due to the lack of awareness, limited or no access to specialist services and an absence of culturally appropriate assessment tools. Sometimes people do not trust the Western health care system. Other studies have found that, culturally, some people believe that dementia is a normal part of aging or being closer to the spirit world, or a diagnosis will not make any difference in terms of support from their family and community. Importantly, people are also fearful of the embarrassment and stigma associated with dementia. 

Photo by M.P. Sullivan

RDS Canada is working with Indigenous Friendship Centers, First Nation communities and Indigenous Health Hubs in Ontario to learn more.

We are working together to address some of the unique challenges faced by people living with rare dementia and think about the development of culturally safe and co-designed supports.   

To learn more about our Indigenous Education Project, please email us or call us at 1-888-279-2232

Additional information on dementia and Indigenous communities may be found at: