Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day
Monday, June 21st, 2021 marks the 25th annual National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada. On this day, and throughout the month of June, BC’s health professionals are reminded to take some time to celebrate,reflect on, and learn about the culture, heritage and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis Communities.
As health professionals, it is vital that we continue to reflect on our relationship with the Indigenous Peoples in our communities. Social and generational issues faced by Indigenous Peoples in Canada continue to present major problems in healthcare settings, and can often result in alienation, inappropriate treatment and barriers to access.
“Indigenous people and people of colour standing up and saying ‘enough is enough’ is one thing…but the people in charge of the institutions that we’re trying to address really do need to take stock of what they’re doing, and change the way they do business.”
This past year brought to light further evidence of the extent to which Indigenous People in BC and Canada experience systemic racism and discrimination, both historically and within our present-day health system. From the unfortunate results of Dr. Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in BC’s health care system; to the tragic discovery of the remains of 215 children the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School.
And while it’s important to acknowledge these wrongs and the need for ongoing work from all of us to help right them; even more important is recognizing and celebrating the resilience, achievement and contributions of Indigenous Communities in this country, as well as the continued guidance and activism of Indigenous leaders such as Dr. Turpel-Lafond and Senator Murray Sinclair.
Taking the time to learn about the rich history and vibrant culture of both your local First Nations and of all Indigenous People in Canada, is an important first step on the road toward reconciliation. Today, we ask that you join us in celebrating the significant contributions Indigenous People continue to make to Canadian life; reflecting on our shared history; and uplifting First Nations communities as we move toward reconciliation.
All of us have a role to play in building Indigenous Peoples’ trust in our health system, as well as re-building our relationships with Indigenous communities in BC and across Canada.
As we continue to move toward a more culturally safe health system that is free of racism and discrimination, we all must embark on our own journeys to learn about and celebrate the history of Indigenous Peoples in Canada and British Columbia and to find ways that each of us as individuals can address and ultimately dismantle Indigenous-specific racism within our society.
Your Journey Toward Cultural Safety and Humility
Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Care
Cultural safety and humility are vital for the provision of fair and equal health services, as well as the creation of a healthcare environment free of racism and discrimination, where individuals feel safe and respected.
Cultural Safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care.
Cultural Humility is a life-long process of reflection to understand individual and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a life-long learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.
On May 11, 2021, the College, along with the leaders of the four largest health regulatory colleges in British Columbia offered our apology to the Indigenous People and communities who have experienced racism while engaging with us and with the health professionals we regulate.
Our job is to protect patients and the public by ensuring that the professionals we regulate provide ethical, safe, quality care. However, Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond's report, In Plain Sight, provided evidence of widespread fear and mistrust of the health-care system due to the prevalence of stereotypes, discrimination, racism and abuse experienced by Indigenous people. The report’s findings illustrated how our current health-care system continues to limit access to medical treatment and negatively affects the health and wellness of Indigenous people—and that Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately impacted.
Our pledge now is to become anti-racist and to support the health professionals we regulate to do the same.