Grand River Hospital is committed to partnering to improve Indigenous health, focusing on community-identified priorities. Grand River Hospital will strive to provide a culturally safe space for First Nations, Inuit, Metis and urban Indigenous people to receive care.

Integral to this is ensuring Grand River Hospital respects and enables Indigenous healing practice in collaboration with Indigenous healers and Elders when requested by Indigenous patients. Through this work, we hope to build strong relationships based on reciprocity, respect, and open communication with Indigenous communities, leaders, and health providers.

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Sacred Fire at the Freeport Campus

Indigenous Healing Practices at Grand River Hospital

Sacred Fires

The Indigenous Employee Circle along with community Firekeepers, hosts Sacred Fires at Grand River Hospital each season, as a space offering healing and togetherness for the Hospital and community together. Patients, families, community and team members are welcomed into the circle.

Upcoming Sacred Fires:

March 19, 2024

  • KW Campus, 11am - 12pm in the Canoe Garden (outside of the main entrance)
  • Freeport Campus, 2pm - 3pm in front of the main entrance

Check back for confirmed times at both campuses for these future Fires: June 18, 2024; September 24, 2024; December 10, 2024



Grand River Hospital supports Indigenous peoples to determine their own health needs and coordinate access to culturally appropriate health care programs and services. Patients, family members or community are able to smudge outdoors on Hospital grounds. Indoors, there is space for smudging at both the KW and Freeport Sites.

For support, you can talk to your care team or connect with the Spiritual Care team: 519-749-4300 ext. 2142. Smudging bundles are also available through this team.

Support for Indigenous Patients and Families at Grand River Hospital

Indigenous Careship Fund

A careship is like a donor-supported scholarship or bursary that provides financial support for patients receiving health care. The funds are provided directly to the patient and their family to help with the financial burden that can come with a health condition or new diagnosis and expenses related to their care.

Indigenous Careship funds are available to support Indigenous patients while receiving healthcare at GRH. Support can include transportation costs, clothing, food and other resources. Please call 519-749-4300 ext. 2142 to access this support.

This program is open to anyone who self-identifies as Indigenous; there is no formal identification process in order to access this Careship. Those who want to support the Careship can donate to Grand River Hospital Foundation or purchase merchandise which supports the Careship.

Patient Relations

If you have compliments, comments, concerns or suggestions about your care experience at Grand River Hospital, patient relations is available to support you.

Feedback about healthcare experiences

We are listening and learning more about the healthcare experiences of Indigenous Peoples in order to improve patient care and experience, and we invite you to provide any feedback with us about how Grand River Hospital can support Indigenous patients, caregivers and families. You can contact the Indigenous Health team at with any feedback, questions, concerns, comments or suggestions.

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Emily Doherty and Christine Peters from the Indigenous Employee Circle

Indigenous Team Members at Grand River Hospital

Team members at Grand River Hospital are invited to join our Indigenous Employee Circle! This group meets to support each other and to help Indigenous people flourish at Grand River Hospital. They also advise the Hospital on matters of Truth and Reconciliation, Health Equity, and how we can best support Indigenous patients. Team members can speak to their manager or contact for more information.


Grand River Hospital and St. Mary’s General Hospital are Building the Future of Care Together

Both hospitals are working together on a joint proposal to modernize facilities, expand services and increase our capacity to care for a rapidly growing number of patients across Waterloo Region. This project includes a new hospital development in Waterloo Region as well as modernizing the existing KW and Freeport Campuses of Grand River Hospital. This 10-15 year project began in 2022 and requires significant community engagement and consultation to shape our plans for the future.

Engaging with Indigenous community is an important part of this work at every stage in the project. In addition to consulting Indigenous community in early project planning, members of Six Nations of the Grand River First Nation and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation have been technical advisors to the new hospital site selection process. As planning for the design of the new hospital gets underway, there will be many opportunities to engage with this work.

If you would like to get involved in the project please send an email to

Learn more about the project by visiting Stay connected by signing up for the project newsletter.