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Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health
Paper cut outs of people of different colours

Culture, Race and Ethnicity, and Indigenous Status

Culture, Race and Ethnicity

Culture, race and ethnicity are grouped together as social determinants of health; however, they are not all the same.

  • Race is described as perceptions of race, colour, or other superficial characteristics such as skin tone or hair texture; examples of racial categories are Black, South Asian and White.
  • Ethnicity and culture are understood as ethnic, cultural ethnic, or national groups, for example, identifying as Mexican or Korean (1).

Race is a social construct. Race is an idea created by humans, with no basis in biology (2). Racism and its effects go far beyond individual acts of discrimination and its most broad effects are systematic, often invisible for those who do not experience it first-hand. It is a common misconception that only Black, Indigenous and other People of Colour are affected by racism. These groups experience the negative effects of racism; however, we are all affected by racism. For example, White North Americans often unknowingly uphold systems of racism that serve to benefit their own race.

Race impacts health through the effects of racism. To understand how race impacts health, there must be a baseline understanding of how racism works.

The three levels of racism are described as follows (3):

Institutional Racism: The most dominant form, this type of racism creates differential access to the goods, services and opportunities of society by race. Characteristics of institutional racism include initial historic insult, structural barriers, inaction in the face of need, societal norms, biological determinism, and unearned privilege. 

Examples: Housing, education and income inequalities between racialized groups, and White people.

Personally Mediated Racism: Prejudice and discrimination, where prejudice means differential assumptions about the abilities, motives and intentions of others according to their race, and discrimination means differential actions towards others according to their race. This is what people typically think of when they think of racism.

Examples: Screening a job applicant out with a Black sounding name, teacher devaluation, being followed in a store for suspected theft, disrespect from healthcare providers.

Internalized Racism: Members of the stigmatized races accepting negative messages about their own abilities and intrinsic worth.

Examples: Self-devaluation, helplessness and hopelessness.

Graph detailing elements of cultural and structural racism

Public Health’s Role

  • Develop an Anti-Racism Strategy  and make a public statement on racism and public health.
  • Strive to collect race-based data in order to better identify and understand health inequities related to race.
  • Educate our staff to reject racism and direct them to appropriate public health related resources.
  • Provide evidence to municipal leaders and decisions makers about the unintended health equity impacts of various policies and by-laws.

Other Resources in the Community

Indigenous Status

The health of Indigenous Peoples is important to us. In the spirit of reconciliation, we are working with our local community partners to share meaningful content on this topic that respects “nothing about us without us”.

Public Health’s Role

  • Encouraging staff to participate in Indigenous Cultural Safety training.
  • Organize the KAIROS Blanket Exercise undertaken by the Board of Health and select staff as a tool to learn about the history of colonialism and Indigenous people across what we now call Canada.


  1. Colour of Poverty Colour of Change. Disaggregated Data Survey Template. 2019.
  2. National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health. Let’s Talk: Racism and Health Equity (Rev. ed.). Antigonish, NS: National Collaborating Centre for Determinants of Health, St. Francis Xavier University. 2018.
  3. Jones CP. Levels of Racism: A Theoretic Framework and a Gardener’s Tale. Am J Public Health. 2000;90(8):1212–5.

Need More Information About Culture, Race and Ethnicity, and Indigenous Status?

Please contact the Social Determinants of Health Nurse by calling 613-966-5500 or 1-800-267-2803.

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HPEPH is currently offering vaccine to eligible groups. In order to keep our phone lines free for those who are currently eligible, please do NOT contact us to inquire about vaccinations unless you have been invited to participate.

Groups Currently Eligible to Book at

  • Individuals turning 50 and over in 2021
  • Health care or personal support workers
  • Childcare workers (licensed & unlicensed)
  • Education workers (including special education)
  • Residents and staff in care homes and group living settings (including essential caregivers)
  • People with highest-risk health conditions and their caregivers (for example, pregnancy, organ transplant, multiple sclerosis)
  • People with high risk health conditions and their caregivers (for example, BMI of over 40, chemotherapy, Down syndrome)
  • People with at-risk health conditions (for example, autoimmune disorders, heart disease, diabetes)
  • Chronic home health care recipients
  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals, including members of their household
  • People who cannot work from home (Group One and Group Two)

Groups Eligible to Book at Pharmacies:

Groups Eligible to Pre-Register

For booking information for eligible individuals, please visit


A province-wide Stay-at-Home order is in effect, and requires everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated), for outdoor exercise, or for work that cannot be done remotely. Please avoid close contact with anyone outside your household. For more information, visit our COVID-19 page.


If you are concerned about potential exposure to a positive case of COVID-19, please be reassured that any contacts of a confirmed case will be contacted directly and monitored by public health.

Low-risk and indirect contacts should self monitor for symptoms for 14 days from the time of potential exposure and seek testing if symptoms develop. Low risk contacts do not need to isolate unless symptoms develop, and can continue to attend school/work/daycare while monitoring for symptoms.