Navigating Healthcare: A Gift of Community Wisdom

October 28, 2021

Title Page Header with YCO Logo

Background  Challenges  Strategies  Considerations  Our Voices

This project involved youth living on unceded, ancestral, and traditional lands, home to the  xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), and Stó:lō Nations.

Colonization and systemic oppression directly impact Indigenous peoples’ health and well-being. The violent stealing and occupying of homelands affect the accessibility and availability of safety, well-being, culturally-affirming foods, medicines, culture, care, and community. As shared by youth in our Navigating Healthcare resources, colonization and anti-Indigenous racism are a root cause of harmful, violent, and negligent healthcare interactions. As we move to improve healthcare access, dialogue and change need to center, follow, and respect the knowledge, creativity, and skills of Indigenous youth and communities.

Over the last 7 months, we have been speaking to youth in our communities and reflecting on the overwhelming challenges of navigating the healthcare system. We have also been learning and sharing knowledge about how to seek out and create care that centers our safety, agency, identities, and communities.

The existence of these resources speaks to significant gaps in care for youth. These shared practices are valuable pieces of community wisdom. At the same time, they are not permanent, infallible, nor sustainable solutions to existing health inequities.

As we discuss in this resource, more comprehensive training and representation among healthcare providers can help, but it does not stop there! We need to actively support and uplift youth who are healthcare providers as they navigate these systems and advocate for themselves and our communities. For these actions to be effective and sustainable, we know that a larger change to the healthcare, education, and governing systems is required.

We welcome folks to join us in this conversation about healthcare access and hope that this offers support as we move toward greater change.


YouthCO would like to acknowledge the time, wisdom, and efforts that youth shared with us. Their generosity and vulnerability made this document possible. We would also like to express gratitude to our Special Projects Coordinator, Jessamyn Hung for their creativity and commitment in bringing this project to life.

The graphic design featured throughout this project has been done by two artists in our community, Bug Cru and Max Ban. Bug Cru created the graphics featured in our online resources, including our header image. This image joins the 11 youths’ ideas of a world where healthcare is accessible and all the community healing, joy, and care that can come from this. Max Ban created our social media portraits and quote images. Max helped us bring to life key quotes that folks shared with us about their experiences as well as their ideas of safe, respectful, and affirming healthcare. We thank them both for their fantastic contributions to our project!


This information comes from community knowledge and does not provide medical or legal advice. If you need medical advice,  please connect with the medical providers listed on our resources page.

While we created this resource to support youth, practitioners are welcome to learn from this resource and may also want to explore these practitioner-focused resources from organizations such as Trans Care BC and Wisdom2Action. We also recommend searching for cultural safety training programs in your location and discipline.


  • Youth living on stolen, occupied, and traditional lands of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem) nations and S’ólh Téméxw (Stó:lō) lands
  • Indigenous youth [from the Michel, Heiltsuk, Squamish, and Nuxalk First nations]
  • East Asian, South Asian, and South East Asian youth
  • Black youth
  • Brown youth
  • Two-Spirit youth
  • Nonbinary trans, gendervoid, intersex femmes, and transmasculine, and gender non-conforming youth
  • Queer, multi-sexual, grey-ace, aromantic, and/or pansexual youth
  • Youth living with HIV
  • Disabled youth
  • Neurodivergent youth
  • Youth with chronic mental illness with and without experiences in psychiatric facilities
  • Youth with chronic pain
  • Healthcare practitioners and trainees
  • Retired sex workers
  • Youth actively using substances
  • Youth who infrequently and frequently engage with public and private healthcare
  • Youth with ranging financial income and stability
  • Youth with experiences in care
  • Youth living in rural and urban communities
  • Immigrants and second-generation immigrant settlers with and without refugee parents
  • Youth who are involved in collective care, community building, disability justice, peer support, and rest as resistance