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Palliative Care Toolkit for Indigenous Communities

This toolkit includes resources and reference material for First Nations, Métis and Inuit families and communities. It can be used to help support people with cancer who have palliative care needs. These education materials can be used by anyone in the community.

Tools for the Journey: Palliative Care in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Communities

  • A First Nations, Inuit and Métis definition of palliative care
  • Personal stories and other resources to help First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities develop capacity in palliative care, and cope with grief and loss
  • Information to support decision-making and planning for people with advanced cancer
  • Information to help caregivers care for their loved ones with advanced cancer

Reference Material Package

This package of reference material supplements the information in the brochures. Print just the sections you need, or assemble the entire package into a binder.

Cover Page (1 page)

  • Cover insert for binders

Table of Contents (3 pages)

Introduction (2 pages)

  • Overview of the toolkit

Feedback Form (2 pages)

  • For providing feedback on the toolkit

Section A: Resources (32 pages)

  • Resources to help First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities provide palliative care
  • Pain and symptom management support
  • Services provided by the Canadian Cancer Society
  • A listing of online videos and helpful websites
  • Additional information on regional palliative services and networks

Section B: Palliative Care, Diagnosis and Working Together (25 pages)

  • A working definition of palliative care from the perspective of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people
  • Additional definitions of palliative care from a public health perspective
  • Information related to cancer including metastatic and advanced cancer
  • Tools for coping and communicating with the healthcare system to ensure diagnosis and options are understood

Section C: Teachings to Support Grief and Loss in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Communities (17 pages)

  • General information and resources on grief and loss
  • Personal stories and traditional teachings for individuals and families in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities who are experiencing grief related to a loved one’s cancer or other life-threatening illness
  • List of online videos with personal stories of First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and families’ cancer experiences
  • List of resources to help talk about illness and dying

Section D: What to Expect - Making Decisions and Plans (7 pages)

  • Information and guidance on making personal care choices and final wishes at end of life
  • Explanations of legal documents and some terminology
  • Workbooks on advance care planning and a sample Power of Attorney (“living will”)

Section E: Understanding the Diagnosis for Patients and Caregivers (16 pages)

  • Information and resources to help caregivers care for their loved ones


Instructions: Print each brochure double-sided and fold in thirds.

Understanding the Diagnosis for Patients and Caregivers

Learn about palliative care from First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives in the context of advanced cancer diagnosis. Also find sample questions to ask healthcare providers and choices patients and families might need to make.

Teachings to Support Grief and Loss

Learn about grief and loss from First Nations, Inuit and Métis perspectives, and teachings related to passing on to the spirit world. Also find suggestions for ways of supporting and respecting patients and families.

What to Expect: Making Decisions and Plans

Learn about decisions a patient might need to make on personal care, and legal and financial concerns. Also learn about advance care planning and powers of attorney.

Taking Care of Your Loved One

Learn about how primary caregivers should talk to loved ones about their wishes and care arrangement. Also find tips on supporting loved ones, self-care and encouragement for caregivers.

Working Together

Find guidelines for working together effectively to ensure that First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals’ needs and choices are respected in the context of palliative care.

Who To Talk To For Support

Find resources for patients and families, including online resources and contact information for supportive care programs and Aboriginal patient navigators.

About this Toolkit

This toolkit is based on input from First Nations, Inuit and Métis people on what palliative care means to them and what information and support they need. These conversations took place in a series of focus groups and interviews held across Ontario in 2013 and 2014.

We thank the many First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals across Ontario whose ideas helped to shape this toolkit.