Indigenous peoples in the Alberta Health Services’ central zone now have access to a support line to help them navigate the health system.
The toll-free Indigenous Support Line can be reached by calling 1-844-944-4744 or by dialling 811, #7, AHS announced in a media release on Wednesday.
The support line is staffed by Indigenous Health Link staff, who will answer callers’ questions, help them access culturally appropriate care and support, and assist them with navigating the healthcare system. The line is available on weekdays from noon to 8 p.m. Clients can call at any point in their healthcare journey with questions or concerns.
“The Indigenous Support Line is creating a brave space where our people can speak their truth, a place where they can feel supported asking for guidance and help navigating a complex healthcare system,” said Casey Eagle Speaker, co-chair of the AHS Wisdom Council.
The new service is an expansion of the Indigenous Support Line launched in June 2022 in the AHS North Zone and in May 2023 in South Zone. Since then, staff have taken more than 2,000 calls.
AHS said every respondent to a follow-up survey with clients who used the line said they felt respected and supported by the person who assisted them, and more than 97 per cent said they would use the line again and would recommend the line to friends and family.
The AHS Wisdom Council and Elder Circle played a key role in the creation of the Indigenous Support Line in the North Zone, providing strong guidance and advice to AHS throughout the creation and launch of the project. They continue to encourage AHS to expand the service across the province to better support Indigenous peoples in their wellness journey.
“The support line connects individuals with someone who listens with patience, spirituality, acceptance, caring and empathy,” said Cheryl Sheldon, Wisdom Council co-chair.
“Those phone conversations build a deeper understanding of the difficulties Indigenous clients face and it makes a difference, it matters to them, and they feel like they matter to AHS.”
All Albertans are asked to call 911 if they have a medical emergency. Health Link also remains available 24/7 for non-emergency health-related questions.
For more information, visit the Indigenous Support Line webpage.