Aboriginal Ways Tried and True

The Anishnawbe language expresses something that is happening in the active tense --each word is a whole story. The term “Tried and True” speaks of what we value and speaks to others of knowledge they can trust and respect.

Jaqui Lavalley – Ojibwe Kokomis (Teacher)

Welcome to the Aboriginal Ways Tried and True: good public health practices in Aboriginal communities

Interventions posted on this site are based on best available evidence of successful public health interventions occurring in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities (urban and rural). All interventions have been assessed using a culturally-relevant, inclusive, and validated framework.

This model illustrates the concept of interconnectedness that Mino-Bimaadziwin represents.  The self requires a balanced existence internally and externally.  The model houses the self in the centre with the family and community in the external realms where family is inclusive of immediate family, extended family and also ancestors.  The community takes into consideration the social determinants of health.  Finally, the internal self comprises the spiritual, cognitive, emotional, and physical selves.
One must always be aware of the interrelationship between all beings to ensure Mino-Bimaadiziwin, the healthy way of life. This includes balancing one's relationships with the surrounding environment, surrounding beings, and the inner physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual needs of the human condition.


About Ways Tried and True

Ways Tried and True (WTT) refers to successful practices implemented in First Nations, Inuit and Métis contexts to address local challenges. Success is measured not only by effectiveness, but also by how the intervention was designed and carried out.

The terms ‘Indigenous’ and ‘Aboriginal’ are used interchangeably to refer to the original inhabitants of Canada and their descendants including First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples as defined in Section 35 of the Canadian Constitution Act, 1982.

Ways Tried and True: An Aboriginal Paradigm to Share Public Health Stories of Success

Ways Tried and True (WTT) refers to public health interventions that have been developed with or by Aboriginal communities and have demonstrated a positive effect on target groups. These interventions have undergone a rigorous, culturally-relevant assessment process based on the following six criteria: basis in the community, wholistic approach, integration of Indigenous cultural knowledge, building on community strengths and needs, partnership/collaboration and demonstrated effectiveness. Accepted standards of evidence include both Aboriginal and academic research approaches.

The WTT review procedure is equally stringent to that of the Best and Promising practices; although they are very different. With the Ways Tried and True the guiding paradigm is an Aboriginal worldview as opposed to a Western one, leading to very different processes. The WTT criteria and assessment processes were guided by the literature and developed collaboratively with Aboriginal health experts. The project began as an effort to be more inclusive of Aboriginal interventions on the portal, and as the project evolved it became clear that there were inherent challenges with the application of the terms “Best” and “Promising Practices” in Aboriginal contexts reinforcing the need for a culturally-appropriate way of examining success in Aboriginal contexts leading to the creation of the Aboriginal Ways Tried and True Framework.

Read more…

A framework was developed to identify and assess First Nations, Inuit and Métis public health interventions, and has been validated through continuous consultations. This exciting and innovative approach expands our understanding of what constitutes practice-based evidence and provides a tool that will enable the Canadian Best Practices Portal to seek out, identify and include evidence-based information within a cultural context that respects First Nations, Inuit and Métis traditional approaches to health and wellness.

While the framework has defined certain key elements and a specific approach, it is not written in stone and will be seen as a living or ‘green’ document that will be adapted as we learn more through the process and as the literature changes. It is not intended to provide all the answers, but will initiate and facilitate ongoing dialogue and understanding. The full version of this document the Ways Tried and True Aboriginal Methodological Framework is available on the Government of Canada publications website.


The Portal offers an opportunity to share learnings about interventions that worked for some by detailing the process and context factors that made them successful. Interventions are intended to inspire and support public health practitioners, program developers, evaluators, and others by sharing information on programs and processes that have worked in Aboriginal contexts. Given the great diversity of Aboriginal communities, peoples and cultures, it is not expected that any one intervention will work for all communities.

Unique Approach

The health disparities between Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal Canadians are well-documented. Although communities are developing innovative and effective programming in health promotion and prevention, information on these community-based approaches can be difficult to find resulting in a significant information gap. Aboriginal interventions have been difficult to include using the Agency’s existing criteria for a number of reasons related to differences in research and evaluation values, lack of evaluation data and differences associated with the concept of best practice.


The framework was developed by the Canadian Best Practices Initiative (CBPI) and Johnston Research Inc. under the guidance of an expert working group in 2013/14. The framework was also presented in multiple public forums to gather feedback and assess consensus around the approach.

Selection Process

The Aboriginal Ways Tried and True Framework has adapted the mainstream understanding of a best practice as an idea or concept which can be adapted and/or replicated in multiple contexts to be more consistent with Aboriginal beliefs that strongly favour interventions that are wholistic and rooted in the community context.

The framework established a distinct set of criteria that Aboriginal scholars and organizations have associated with good practice in Aboriginal settings: community-based, wholistic, integration of Indigenous cultural knowledge, partnership and collaboration, built on community strengths, sustainable and effective. A rubric model was chosen as a systematic and objective tool for assessing interventions because it provides a way to evaluate complex processes on a continuum and is more inclusive of a variety of interventions and Aboriginal-specific approaches.

A step-by-step guidebook has been developed to support the identification of Aboriginal public health initiatives that have demonstrated positive health outcomes and the application of the Ways Tried and True (WTT) Rubric Criteria. The full version of the document which includes the assessment tool, “Guidebook on the Implementation of the Aboriginal Ways Tried and True Criteria and Assessment Rubric”, is available from cbpp-pcpe@phac-aspc.gc.ca.

The CBPI and working group prioritized interventions focused on mental wellness, strong healthy bodies, and maternal child health.


  • Strong Healthy Bodies
  • Mental Wellness
  • Maternal and Child Health

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