June is National Indigenous History Month, an opportunity to honor and recognize the rich and diverse cultures, languages and traditions of Indigenous Peoples across Canada. Most importantly, it is a month to celebrate the strength and resiliency of First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities, families and individuals.
Providence Health Care (PHC) has made the bold commitment to embed Truth and Reconciliation in everything we do—and this year we launched our Indigenous Wellness and Reconciliation Action Plan.
We acknowledge that a hard first step towards reconciliation is hearing and accepting the painful truths of the past and present, which Indigenous people have shared with us. They have shared with us where they have been and where they are now through conversations as intimate as appointments with patients or as large scale as the National Inquiries into Truth and Reconciliation or Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
We also know the conversations are ongoing, not a thing of the past. Indeed, since last year, more sites of former Indian Residential Schools have been investigated for the presence of unmarked graves. Indigenous people have also reminded us that these stories are not new—for decades they have told us. There is a significant chapter on this in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report. The onus is on us to respond and commit to becoming a culturally safe and humble organization.
As stated in our Indigenous Wellness and Reconciliation Plan, “Providence has a unique and solemn commitment to Truth and Reconciliation, given our role as both a health care organization, and a Catholic-sponsored organization. The Catholic Church was deeply complicit in colonial abuses perpetuated against Indigenous Peoples. These abuses inflicted devastating harm upon Indigenous Peoples. These harms continue today, through both intergenerational trauma, as well as ongoing oppression and racism rooted in the colonial legacy. The Church has a continued shared responsibility with federal and provincial governments to redress, repair, and support reconstruction.”
To achieve Cultural Safety and Humility, we all need to approach health care for Indigenous patients and their families as learners. We recognize we have an obligation to listen and learn with humility. Listening and learning will also help us better get to know Indigenous peoples, their rich and diverse histories and the work that needs to take place for a better future. This is about doing things differently, being prepared to challenge our own biases, to change, to make space and to invest in learning.
Below are some links to resources and available training:
Reports & Recommendations for Action
- Truth and Reconciliation Commission: Calls to Action
- In Plain Sight Report: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care
- Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and Girls Report
- Red Women Rising: Indigenous Women survivors In Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
- Residential School Survivor Society
- National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
Courses Available to Canadians and Health Care Professionals
- Indigenous Canada—Faculty of Native Studies at University of Alberta – Indigenous Canada is a 12-lesson Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) from the Faculty of Native Studies that explores the different histories and contemporary perspectives of Indigenous peoples living in Canada. From an Indigenous perspective, this course explores complex experiences Indigenous peoples face today from a historical and critical perspective highlighting national and local Indigenous-settler relations.
- San’yas Anti-Racism Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Program