Knowledge Resources & Publications


Webinar - Visioning the Future: First Nations, Inuit, & Métis Population and Public Health Series – Governance and Data

June 2022

Series Description

Visioning the Future is a series of webinars offering a vision for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples’ public health. These webinars are a development of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health’s 2021 publication, Visioning the Future: First Nations, Inuit, & Métis Population and Public Health, a collaborative report offering a vision for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples’ public health. Privileging Indigenous knowledges, the commissioned report complements the Chief Public Health Officer’s 2021 public health vision report, A Vision to Transform Canada's Public Health System.

Webinar Overview

Presenters Dr. Danièle Behn Smith and Dr. Shannon McDonald show how Indigenous Peoples’ ownership and control of their past, present, and future are critical elements of their individual and collective health and well-being. Dr. Behn Smith reflects on the importance of a paradigm shift away from conventional population health data about Indigenous peoples. She examines how disaggregated data that is self-created and self-governed can inform actions that will achieve health equity. Dr. McDonald highlights how external control of First Nations by central governments has contributed to a system of health services that is inappropriate, inadequate, and full of systemic biases. She highlights the cruciality of First Nations health sovereignty to this population’s health and well-being.


Dr. Danièle Behn Smith has been working to support Indigenous health in the Office of the Provincial Health Officer of British Columbia since 2015.

Dr. Behn Smith works alongside Dr. Bonnie Henry, Provincial Health Officer. She provides independent advice and support to the Ministry of Health on Indigenous health issues. In support of the Ministry’s strategic agenda, Dr. Behn Smith works in meaningful partnership with Indigenous collectives, communities, and organizations to advance wellness and disrupt colonial practices and policies.

Dr. Behn Smith is Eh Cho Dene (Big Animal People) of the Fort Nelson First Nation in B.C. with French Canadian/Métis roots in the Red River Valley. Since getting her Doctor of Medicine from McMaster University and completing residencies at the universities of Ottawa and Manitoba, her career has spanned the country and the globe.

Dr. Behn Smith has practiced rural medicine in remote and First Nations communities across Canada. She was a board director for the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada, the Director of Education for the University of Alberta’s Indigenous Health Initiatives Program, and the Site Director of the University of British Columbia’s Aboriginal Family Practice residency. Since 2014, she has transitioned to a functional medicine practice. Functional medicine is a complex systems biology approach to family practice that resonates with Indigenous approaches to health and healing.

Dr. Behn Smith was also the host of “Medicine Woman”, a 13-episode television series which explored traditional healing practices in ten countries on six continents.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, proudly Metis/Anishinabe with deep roots in the Red River Valley of Manitoba, is the Acting Chief Medical Officer at the First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia. Dr. McDonald is a trained physician, with post-graduate medical training in Community Medicine and Psychiatry, and has worked for over 25 years in the area of First Nations and Aboriginal Health. She has extensive experience in both the federal and provincial government contexts. As an influential leader, Dr. McDonald was awarded BC’s Physician Champions of Change award by the Doctors of BC for her leadership and advocacy for physician services in BC’s rural and remote First Nations communities.

Learning Objectives

  • Examine current inequities in mental and physical health among First Nations, Inuit, and Métis populations.
  • Consider the social, political, and historical contexts that have been the fundamental drivers of these inequities.
  • Understand how re-establishing Indigenous Peoples’ health systems and ways of knowing and being are vital to overturning these inequities.
  • Explore practical strategies for achieving health equity.

Webinar Resources