Aboriginal Health

“I chose the Aboriginal Health Program at the University of Lethbridge because of the longstanding academic reputation of the institution, paired with the close relationships with neighbouring Indigenous communities and members. The program allowed me to utilize two-eyed seeing in the classroom as a student and as a critical thinker for the innovative change that is required in our health systems. What I did not anticipate was the healing, the path to self-awareness and the regaining of the warrior spirit that would go hand in hand with the journey.”

- Amelle Weasel Fat

The Aboriginal Health major in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program prepares students for non-clinical work and graduate study in the field of Aboriginal Health.

This exciting program is working with students to become creative, skilled, culturally competent, committed, and passionate about creating a more inclusive, equitable society for all. You will learn about historical and contemporary causes for health inequities in areas such as water and food security, diabetes, addiction, and mental wellness. You will get the opportunity to learn about traditional Indigenous teachings and contemporary perspectives by engaging with Elders, knowledge keepers, health care professionals, and other Indigenous peoples. You will have the opportunity to develop your skills in a community setting by engaging in a practicum in partnership with rural and urban Indigenous communities.

Major topics in the Aboriginal Health major include traditional Indigenous health concepts, creating healthy communities, preventing disease, creating and evaluating health programs, and conducting health research. The knowledge you develop will be transferable to organizations and communities as they respond to critical health issues facing Aboriginal peoples and all Canadians.

There is only one intake to the Aboriginal Health major each year. The deadline to apply for admission to the Aboriginal Health major in the Bachelor of Health Sciences or Post-Diploma Bachelor of Health Sciences is June 1.

To apply for the Aboriginal Health major in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program, Alberta applicants must have:
- English Language Arts 30-1
- Three approved 30-level academic courses*
- One additional 30-level course

*See the full list of approved Canadian high school courses here.

Spoken English Language Proficiency Requirement

In addition to the English Language Proficiency requirement for regular University of Lethbridge undergraduate admission, applicants to the Faculty of Health Sciences must also meet a Spoken English Language Proficiency (SELP) requirement. More information on the SELP can be found here.

The Faculty of Health Sciences demonstrates its commitment to Aboriginal peoples and communities by offering admission to First Nations, Métis, and Inuit applicants. This is to ensure that we are:

  • following the University of Lethbridge’s fundamental principles and key strategic priorities to ensure that our programs meet the needs of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit communities
  • addressing Call to Action #7 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada to eliminate educational and employment gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians

Applicants who have declared their Aboriginal ancestry at the time of application may be considered by criteria designed to help address the traditional underrepresentation of Aboriginal people in health professions. For more information, contact an Academic Advisor.

The Program Planning Guide lists all required courses in the program and provides students with more information on the exciting major in Aboriginal Health.

The Aboriginal Health major in the two-year Post-Diploma B.H.Sc. program is available to applicants who have completed an approved two-year diploma from an accredited post-secondary institution in the fields of: 

  • child and youth care
  • correction studies
  • criminal justice
  • health
  • social work
  • indigenous studies

The Faculty of Health Sciences will consider diplomas in other areas of study on a case-by-case basis.

Applicants to the Post-Diploma program must have a minimum diploma GPA of 3.00 on the University of Lethbridge 4.00 scale. If you are considering applying to the program with a diploma GPA below 3.00 (but not less than 2.00), you may be considered for admission if you have extensive practical experience in a relevant field.

The individualized program will include some of the following courses:

  • ABHL 1000 - Introduction to Aboriginal Health
  • ABHL 2000 - Indigenous Healing and Restoration
  • ABHL 3300 - Traditional Aboriginal Health Concepts
  • ABHL 3310 - Contemporary Issues in Aboriginal Health
  • ABHL 4350 - Practicum in Aboriginal Health (15.0 credit hours)
  • ADCS 1020 - Introduction to the Counselling Interview
  • ADCS 2235 - First Nations Counselling
  • ADCS 3729 - Studies in Specific Addictive Disorders (Series)
  • HLSC 1010 - Personal Health and Wellness
  • HLSC 2310 - Human Nutrition
  • HLSC 2700/SOCI 2700 - Health and Society
  • HLSC 3260 - Research in the Health Sciences
  • HLSC 3450/PSYC 3450 - Applied Statistics for Clinical Practice
  • HLSC 3510 - Program Planning and Evaluation
  • INDG 1000 - Introduction to Indigenous Studies
  • MGT 3080 - Managerial Skill Development
  • PUBH 1000 - Introduction to Public Health
  • PUBH 3420 - Public Health Ethics
  • SOCI 1000 - Introduction to Sociology
  • WRIT 1000 - Introduction to Academic Writing

Applicants to the Aboriginal Health major who have previously completed an approved undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.00 will have the opportunity to complete an individualized 20-course program in just two years. 

The individualized program will include some of the following courses:

  • ABHL 1000 - Introduction to Aboriginal Health
  • ABHL 2000 - Indigenous Healing and Restoration
  • ABHL 3300 - Traditional Aboriginal Health Concepts
  • ABHL 3310 - Contemporary Issues in Aboriginal Health
  • ABHL 4350 - Practicum in Aboriginal Health (15.0 credit hours)
  • ADCS 1020 - Introduction to the Counselling Interview
  • ADCS 2235 - First Nations Counselling
  • ADCS 3729 - Studies in Specific Addictive Disorders (Series)
  • HLSC 1010 - Personal Health and Wellness
  • HLSC 2310 - Human Nutrition
  • HLSC 2700/SOCI 2700 - Health and Society
  • HLSC 3260 - Research in the Health Sciences
  • HLSC 3450/PSYC 3450 - Applied Statistics for Clinical Practice
  • HLSC 3510 - Program Planning and Evaluation
  • INDG 1000 - Introduction to Indigenous Studies
  • MGT 3080 - Managerial Skill Development
  • PUBH 1000 - Introduction to Public Health
  • PUBH 3420 - Public Health Ethics
  • SOCI 1000 - Introduction to Sociology
  • WRIT 1000 - Introduction to Academic Writing

The University of Lethbridge provides academic, cultural, and personal support services for self-declared First Nations, Métis, and Inuit students who are interested in careers in the health sciences. An integrated approach is utilized involving Elders, mentors, and advisors as well as assistance in locating resources such as accessibility services, accommodated learning, tutors, and scholarship applications. Students are encouraged to meet with Elders for guidance, cultural support, and spiritual mentoring. Dedicated homework space is provided, and social networking opportunities help students adjust to student life and create peer support systems. 

Within our faculty if you would like to access our services or have any questions, you are encouraged to call the Faculty of Health Sciences Learning Facilitator at 403-332-4579 or email marilyn.lamb@uleth.ca.

The Indigenous Student Centre at Iikaisskini is also available to provide supports for Indigenous students.  Their primary role is to guide, encourage, and empower students in the University environment. Please click the button for more information on their services.

 Indigenous Student Centre

Graduates of this program will have the ability to navigate between differing models of health and care using culturally safe practices. Graduates will have the skills to seek out careers in health promotion and disease prevention, program and policy development and evaluation, community-based research, community outreach, cultural broker/health advocacy, and wellness counselling, among other areas.

After completion of the program, graduates may find employment in a job such as:

  • Indigenous Health Coordinator
  • Aboriginal Health Representative
  • Community Liaison Worker

New students should view the following video for information on the program:

2021 Aboriginal Health New Student Orientation

Aboriginal Health Student Experiences

Click on a name below to read first-hand experiences of Aboriginal Health students!

My grandmother May Weasel Fat, believed to be the eldest surviving Blood Tribe member at 101, was born on the banks of the Oldman River in a canvas tent. She was the last of the Blood people to have a traditional birth just a few kilometres away from the Galt Hospital. When I walk down University Hall, I look out over the coulees and feel the spirit of the land, the spirit of my grandmother — it’s a powerful thing. We’ve come far as Blackfoot people; many sacrifices were made so I can plant my own moccasins here. I owe my grandmother everything.

I chose the Aboriginal Health Program at the University of Lethbridge because of the longstanding academic reputation of the institution, paired with the close relationships with neighbouring Indigenous communities and members. The program allowed me to utilize two-eyed seeing (using the lens of both Indigenous and Western ways of knowing) in the classroom as a student and as a critical thinker for the innovative change that is required in our health systems. What I did not anticipate was the healing, the path to self-awareness and the regaining of the warrior spirit that would go hand in hand with the journey. I found a place I belonged; I filled my cup with the power of knowledge from each professor, while honouring the invaluable insights of each Indigenous Elder in the classroom. I cannot thank faculty, advisors, Elders and the dean enough for the support and opportunity they gave me as a student, a mother, a researcher and a student-curriculum committee representative as they pushed me to seek every opportunity that was presented to me. This program is the medicine I think everyone should experience. 

My name is Vanessa Ahenakew, and I am of Cree decent from central Saskatchewan and entering my second year of the Aboriginal Health program at the University of Lethbridge. This program was appealing to me because I have worked with my people for the past 13 years and I needed more history behind my people’s health issues. I came across this program online, and after my first year it caused an awakening of realization when it came to the health of many of my clients I have helped during my time as a nurse on my own reserve. The topics covered in my first year of studies were eye opening and gave more understanding on how things can be solved when it comes to Aboriginal Health issues on and off reserve. By taking the initiative to learn about my own people across Canada, I have invited the two-eyed seeing approach into my work practices as a current nurse. The classes offered are very informative with great instructors who take the time to help you process/understand the history of Aboriginal People all over Canada, and they care about what they are teaching to their students. The topics covered are not always pleasant to hear about, but the instructors are compassionate about seeing change in contemporary issues Aboriginal People face and deliver up to date information with a gentle heart that change can happen. As a current student I would 100% recommend this program to further your education, as it is a definite asset to my education within the health care field or any organization providing services to Aboriginal People.

Being a First Nations’ member, I’ve had lived experience of the social inequities and past historical traumas that have had tremendous effect on the overall health of First Nations people in Canada. I love how the Aboriginal Health program utilizes the ‘two-eyed seeing’ approach, meaning that it teaches and guides students with both the western sciences and our First Nations ways of knowing.

The knowledge learned at the University of Lethbridge is vital in the challenges facing the Aboriginal health field. One of the unique benefits I most admire and appreciate is the use of our traditional knowledge keepers and our First Nations elders, to listen to them within a classroom setting helps me as an individual and as a future health advocate, and the ongoing support and guidance from the elders has helped me be mindful of myself and community. Future students of the program have a lot to look forward to!