Certification Framework

In the establishment of a system for the certification of Indigenous practitioners, the ICBOC recognizes the need to define their role in a manner that is distinct from others who may provide services to the same client population. ICBOC’s certification standards and requirements are anchored in the distinctive holistic Indigenous approaches to healing and wellbeing, whether in terms of experience, education, training, or in cultural ways of being, doing, seeing and feeling.

As an indigenous agency committed to support your ongoing professional development efforts and to provide credentials that attest the competency you gain trough your combined years of work experience and your education/training, ICBOC has developed a coherent career development framework that includes the following:





ICBOC uses a customized process of occupational analysis (DACUM) to identify the major duties and related tasks required to perform in a given occupation, as well as the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to carry out these responsibilities.


ICBOC provides free advice, guidance or orientation to applicants who either seek a first certification, wish to renew their certification or to obtain a higher certification level.


Our certification work provides some insights on gaps in certain training themes/topics or on emerging issues for which culturally relevant training is not offered or is not readily available.

We collaborate with a number of indigenous curriculum developers and training providers to ensure that topics and hours required by ICBOC for certification and/or related to emergent topics are available. We give priority to training developed with an indigenous lens.


ICBOC accredits a range of certification-relevant and culturally appropriate education/training, offered by a variety of providers, such as universities and colleges, training/curriculum development organizations and companies, conference organizers, and training offered by independent trainers. The range of training formats that ICBOC accredits includes face-to-face or online programs, courses, workshops, seminars, webinars, as well as conference and in-house training.

The accreditation application process is based on the type of training offered and ranges from a simple set of forms to a more extensive two-step process (documentation phase and onsite visits) for university and college programs.

In accrediting formal and informal education and training programs, ICBOC’s ultimate goal is to ensure the success of indigenous students, both in term of their personal growth and of their acquisition of the professional competence required by employers. The objectives of our accreditation process are, therefore, to insure the cultural competency and cultural safety of the training, as well as its relevance to the ICBOC training/education requirements.

Graduates of accredited university and college programs – provided they fulfil the work experience requirement – are automatically granted certification, although they still have to submit an application. The level of certification granted will be determined by the Registrar, according to the number of years of work experience, their specific portfolio of training and the results from the other external evaluations (supervisor’s evaluation and references) that are submitted with the application.


Accredited programs are featured in our directories of accredited training, posted and promoted on the ICBOC website.

In addition to training accreditation, ICBOC provides a registration and approval process for trainers who deliver training in the context of conference programs or in-house training. ICBOC-Registered, approved trainers in good standing who develop and deliver their own training are then listed in the ICBOC Directory of Approved Trainers, also available on our website. To remain in good standing renewal of registration is due every two years.

Conference organizers and employers who are interested in providing in-house training to their staff, and who are seeking presenters, can consult this directory, knowing that the hours and topics can be automatically applied to ICBOC certifications.


The road to professional recognition has been a difficult one for Indigenous unregulated workers in Canada. Today, the effectiveness of Indigenous holistic healing, community development and education philosophy and approaches are increasingly valued and accepted as legitimate. They are also progressively recognized as not exclusively applicable to indigenous people.

Western society generally places a high value on academic achievement as a means to prove professional competency, and the number of Canadian educational institutions adhering to a holistic educational approach is still modest. This has had detrimental effects on indigenous people’s confidence in their academic abilities and in their access to job opportunities.

Although a growing number of unregulated workers are taking advantage of formal education opportunities, especially those available in a growing number of Aboriginal institutions or indigenized programs, many still do not have the confidence, opportunity or means to pursue higher academic paths to gain their professional recognition. They do, however, acquire the knowledge and skills they need through on-the-job experience and a combination of shorter formal, informal, experiential education and training. The substantial portfolio of training, often allied to the experience they have accumulated on the job, demonstrate that they possess professional competencies as valid as those acquired by a student graduating from an academic program.

ICBOC’s role in the indigenous workforce development movement consists in more than just providing a certificate to successful professional certification applicants. We have developed a strength-based laddering certification system to so that Indigenous workers in unregulated occupations can become more confident in their own personal and professional merits, in the value of their ways of being, knowing, seeing and feeling. A candidate who obtains an entry level certification can move up, depending on the occupation, to progressively higher levels (I, II, III and IV). We also provide professional certifications in the field of addictions for example as clinical supervisors and teams leaders. ICBOC also offer the opportunity to reach for a career in health management.

The steps up ICBOC’s laddering system are realistic, and achievable. They recognize the competency of the person at the point they are at and encourage them to move up. We believe in the capacity, competence and will of our applicants and certified members and are committed to provide the support, encouragement, advice and guidance they need or ask for along their professional journey.


In addition to the vertical laddering system described above, ICBOC also provides a lateral laddering system through the recognition of prior learning. This means that a certified member wishing to apply for a different professional certification – either through personal interest and choice, or because of a change in employment – will not lose all of the training hours acquired in fulfilment of his/her previous certification. ICBOC will examine the applicant’s entire portfolio, and, to the maximum extent possible, will provide the list of the hours work experience, education and training which can be transferred to the new application.

In all cases the cultural and traditional knowledge and skill can be transferred across certifications.


To optimize the success of programs aimed at enhancing the health status of Aboriginal people, Health Canada and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIHB) subscribe to a vision that includes the development and recognition of the Aboriginal workforce’s professional competencies. The primary mandate of the CAAPC is to support this vision by developing generally recognized and culturally respectful standards and requirements that provide the means to measure and acknowledge these competencies.

This support embraces in particular the development and acknowledgement of the competencies demonstrated by workers in those occupations included in Honouring Our Strengths: A Renewed Framework to Address Substance Use Issues Among First Nations People in Canada. The following extracts provide an insight into the range of occupations that are considered as contributors for the implementation of the continuum of care envisioned by the Renewed Framework:

″Honouring Our Strengths outlines a continuum of care in order to support strengthened community, regional, and national responses to substance use issues. It provides direction and identifies opportunities to ensure that individuals, families, and communities have access to appropriate, culturally-relevant services and supports based on their needs at any point in their healing process.

This vision is intended to guide the delivery, design, and coordination of services at all levels of the program. This approach recognizes that responsibility for a strengthened system of care includes individual responsibility for managing one’s own health, communal responsibility among First Nations people, and a system-wide responsibility that rests with individuals, organizations, government departments, and other partners.

The focus of the framework is on addressing substance use issues; however, it also considers the important roles mental health and well-being play in all aspects of care, including prevention, early identification, intervention, and follow-up. In addition, it recognizes that community development and capacity building are central to more self-determined substance use and mental health services and supports″

It is widely recognized that the addictions crisis in Aboriginal families and communities is rooted in the historical and intergenerational trauma generated by centuries of colonization and by the current gaps in social determinants of health.

ICBOC’s extended mandate includes the development of new certifications for other unregulated workers who provide services and programs addressing the gaps in the social determinants of health that affect members of indigenous communities individually and collectively – children, youth, women, men, elders, the incarcerated and the two spirited – and their families.

Through the development of certification standards and requirements for new professional certifications aimed at the unregulated workforce in occupations servicing both the NNADAP envisioned continuum of care, and at the workforce contributing to closing the gaps in the social determinants of health, ICBOC is committed to the vision of ″an abundance of valued, professionally certified, and culturally competent workers leading to healthy families and communities″.
The same certification laddering opportunities within the same certification and the same knowledge and skill transfer across certifications is offered throughout the ICBOC certification framework, insuring a coherent system throughout.


Are you interested in reaching for a management position in the higher professional ranks of the health and wellness field? Whether getting a management position is the next step in your career or it is part of your long term career plan, ICBOC’s certification framework will assist you in moving toward your goal.

The Indigenous Certification Board of Canada (ICBOC) and the First Nations Health Managers Association (FNHMA) have collaborated to develop key initiatives, one of them being the Management Track Program (MTP).

This program, offered as an additional option to the normal progression through the CAAPC certification system, allows interested new applicants and certified members, an additional option o move and invest their professional development efforts towards a career in health management.