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Archive for April, 2015

More Step Up Winners Announced!

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The Beefy Chiefs 2.0 Step Up Challenge winners for the Community Prize Buckets from the 2nd leg of our competition have been chosen and prizes will be in the mail soon. Gina Warburton from the Ts’ewulhtun Health Centre won the step award with a total of 1,157,586 steps – just less than 500km! Jannette Dennis was our distance winner from the Lower Similkameen Indian Band with 482km, and Carole Basil from the Lower Nicola Indian Band won the Active Minutes award with 6000 very active minutes. Congratulations all!

Our forum winners were once again difficult to award because there are so many inspirational and positive posts being added. Thanks to all that have contributed and we always look forward to seeing what others are doing and their inspiration. Molly from the Interior inspired and lifted many of those in the forums with her stories about her personal wellness journey and goals. She was also very helpful with suggestions for exercise and different activities. Our Community Builder Award goes to Sharon Duffy from the Nenqayni Wellness Centre. She offers her assistance to all when needed and is very thoughtful and insightful when she replies to posts that have been created by other users.

Our random prize goes to Mary Marchand from the Okanagan Indian Band. Mary is averaging over 20,000 steps a day. Great work and congratulations, Mary. If you would like to go into the draw to win the random prize, all you have to do is complete the “About Me” section of your profile as well as your profile name. The other important thing is to add ActiveAdmin (active@fnha.ca) as a friend.  All of which are in the instructions that are sent along with your fitbit.

We congratulate all of the winners once again and we start the final countdown to the conclusion of the challenge April 30 and winners for this year announced at Gathering Wisdom VII. Keep stepping it up and stay safe!

Chair’s Report April 2015

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Call to Action to end Violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls

In Ottawa, on February 27, 2015, First Nations leaders met with provincial government representatives and federal ministers Bernard Valcourt (Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) and Kellie Leitch (Labour & Status of Women).  At this first National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the families talked about their daughters, sisters, and mothers.  The families demanded justice and action from governments.

Ernie Crey, Cheam Councillor, has been a vocal advocate for Murdered and Missing Aboriginal women. MARR Minister John Rustad invited Ernie to attend the national roundtable. Ernie was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances- Minister Rustad briefed Ernie upon his return to BC.

Ernie conveyed that he felt encouraged that the National Roundtable took place.  However, he expressed concern that the governments seemed to be struggling with next steps.  Ernie felt hopeful that the commitment for annual meetings would create the space for long overdue action.  During our discussion, Ernie encouraged me as the FNHC Chair to take a leadership role in helping the government.  I informed Ernie about the commitment for annual FNHC meetings with federal and provincial Deputy Ministers and about our progress with BC Deputy Ministers.  Ernie was informed that FNHC is working to organize our first meeting with federal Deputy Ministers.

On March 11, 2015, I attended a “Circle of Leaders Gathering – Call to Action to End Violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls.”  Chief Charlene Belleau invited the First Nations Leadership Council and other leaders to participate.  From this gathering, we heard about the importance of male leaders standing up and telling their stories.  We heard about the importance of opening a dialogue in our communities – not to judge or condemn, but to seek healing of both the victims and the offenders.

BC Chiefs mandated the First Nations Health Council to advocate on health and the broader social determinants of health. The Vision statement for the FNHC/FNHDA/FNHA is  “Healthy, Self-Determining, Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities.”  To achieve our vision statement, the FNHC will have to advocate.  We will have to advocate for justice for our missing and murdered women, men, and girls.  We will have to advocate for creating safety for our women, girls, children and families.

As difficult and as challenging as this work is,  we must step up,provide leadershipand begin a dialogue.  We must seek healing for both the offended and the offender.  We must seek other like-minded leaders and organizations to do this work together.

Mental Health & Substance Use

As some of you may know, I have been walking with my daughter as she confronts her addiction to heroin.  In walking with her, I see dedicated caregivers devoted to helping others.  I also see gaps in services.  I also see poorly governed organizations that do not provide quality services.  I see the need to bring in other organizations to provide safe shelter for our people.  We need to collaborate with likeminded leaders and organizations to provide shelter, pre-treatment support, post treatment support, and culturally appropriate programs and services.

Willie Charlie and I met with Sts’ailes caregivers on March 3rd.  We talked about culture.  We talked about ceremonies and rituals.  We talked about government silos.  We talked about the need to integrate multiple federal departments, BC Ministries, and First Nations programs.  We talked about past successes and the need to redesign programs and services.

A recent cluster of youth suicides in the Fraser-Salish region resulted in a call for action from our health leaders and caregivers to prevent youth suicide.  Willie Charlie and the Fraser Salish Regional team planned a sacred ceremony for April 1.  At this ceremony, our family honoured the caregivers that work with our youth.  We also called upon our dear aunties and uncles to brush off every participant.  At the close of this sacred ceremony –we called for action.  We will be calling upon all of the organizations and caregivers to work together to knock down silos, to integrate programs/services, and to act together to prevent suicides.

On March 26, the Fraser Aboriginal Health Steering Committee met.  We met our new CEO – Michael Marchbank.  We talked about the need to improve services noted above.  We also talked about the need to confront racism and stereotypes in Fraser hospitals.  We honoured Lois Dixon for her thirty plus years of service to Fraser Health and wished her well in her retirement.

Collaboration Partnership Working Group

The Collaboration and Partnership Working Group has been working to develop a proposal as requested by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.  The proposal builds on our success in health and outlines a process for First Nations control over Child Welfare Services in BC.

To date, the Working Group has reviewed two drafts of this proposal and earlier this week gave direction on the final draft.  The final draft proposal will be reviewed with Agency Directors Chairs – Bill Yoachim and Mary Teegee, RCYO Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the First Nations Leadership Council and the Leadership Collaboration for Social Policy Forum. Following this round of input, we plan to bring a final and polished proposal to review with the FNHC at our meeting in early May.

The Working Group believes that the approach we are proposing addresses issues and concerns in a good way.  By building upon the strengths of the engagement pathway, we will seek a consensus in each region.  From five regional consensus papers – we will develop one final FNHC consensus paper.

Information Sharing

Sharing the story of the Made-in-BC Tripartite Health Transfer is ongoing. Other provinces, regions and federal agencies ask the FNHC and FNHA to share information about the work to create the First Nations Health Authority.  Recently, AANDC has contracted negotiators to meet the commitments described in various agreements with Nunavut.  As part of their fact finding process, these negotiators wanted to learn from our negotiations and the outcomes that resulted in the First Nations Health Authority. FNHC and FNHA shared information and lessons learned over a conference call.

On March 13th, a delegation of Chiefs and leaders from southeast Saskatchewan attended our FNHA offices in West Vancouver. These Saskatchewan Chiefs and leaders came to learn from us about the process of negotiations. The delegation reached out to the FNHA for advice on setting up their own First Nations Health Authority.  We gave them a tour, shared information, and addressed their questions.

Some of the key messages to the group included:

  • Determine who your partners are going to be and the climate you are going to be working in.
  • Develop a strategy and a course of action to guide your work.
  • Gather the human resources and tools you will need to create a climate of competency and legitimacy in your organization.
  • Find allies and champions within your partner organizations to ensure the work progresses in a timely fashion.
  • Expect resistance to change, but finds ways help people change the way they think in order to get the work done.
  • Ensure you look at all revenue streams and find hidden opportunities in service delivery.
  • Separate Business from Politics.
  • Remember your mandate.
  • Know that transition and transformation are continuous and on-going.
  • Changing to a Health and Wellness model is critical to improving health outcomes for First Nations.

In March, I attended a meeting hosted by the First Nations Leadership Council which brought together a number of First Nations organizations to talk about our respective mandates and to look for ways to work together.

FNHA Chair in Heart Health and Wellness

I attended the public announcement of the FNHA Chair for Heart Health and Wellness.  This initiative results from a discussion that Grand Chief Ed John had with his heart specialist.  Joe Gallagher worked with partner organizations to create this new position. Grand Chief Ed John participated in this announcement and shared his personal story. The Chair will lead research and education in policy related to heart health, disease prevention and control associated with chronic diseases among First Nations people. This will provideinvaluable direction and a guiding voice in the area of cardiac health and its wellness determinants. The Chair will provide an active leadership voice locally, provincially and nationally, and will advance the understanding of strategies to develop a program of excellence in First Nations wellness and disease prevention.  Read the release

Ceremonies

Seabird Island has opened a pharmacy located in their health center.  In addition to community health programs, the Seabird Island Health Centre offers dental and physician services.  Called as a witness, I was pleased to respond to the work of the grand opening. It was a great event.

On March 28, along with members of the FNHC, I attended a sacred ceremony in Sechelt.  The BC Ministry of Health Services, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Sechelt First Nation renamed the St. Mary’s Hospital to Shishalh Hospital.  It was a beautiful ceremony.  Called as a witness, I was proud to stand with Willie, Leah, and Ernest to respond to this sacred ceremony.

Conclusion & Wellness Update

April promises us a busy month.  I have been training for the 10 km Vancouver Sun Run and Times Colonist Run in late April.  The early spring has meant an early arrival of my allergies and the development of vertigo.  As it is not a good thing to run while feeling the effects of vertigo I have not had the ideal training or preparation for the pending 10KM’s. I am focusing on developing my wind and endurance with fartlek training on shorter runs.  I am feeling much better and should have no problem completing the runs.  I will not break personal records for the runs but I will cross the finish line.

I am excited about our work.  The ceremonies cleansed me, renewed my energy, and gave me strength to carry on.

Hoping that all is well with you my brothers and sisters, I look forward to seeing you all at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey on May 5-7th.

Doug Kelly, First Nations Health Council Chair

Life is good, Life is great, don’t wait to make these choices late in life – start now

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I have spent most of my lifetime working hard to survive financially ensuring my family needs were met. I soon realized that was not enough, my physical and mental health was declining it was time that fitness became one of my top priorities.

I found myself on a new journey in life that included a better diet and an exercise program.

I had joined a gym which was a positive step, yet I still realized that no matter how much I worked out in the gym changes were slow and I was getting frustrated. I needed help to learn the proper way to work out to strengthen my core and make my efforts count.

It was then that I found a trainer to assist me in my wellness. The first thing that they explained was that I could workout everyday but if I did not make healthy food choices and begin a proper diet I was defeating my purpose in the gym. I also needed to follow up with my changes in my everyday actions. Study the proper food choices and when to eat these foods during the day too benefit my daily activities. To exercise when I could fit it into work day, a walk at lunch take the stairs not the elevator simply but invigorating ways to help me feel energized.

In changing my journey, life became so fulfilling.

All the activities I struggled to do or wished I could do I am now enjoying.

I am snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, canoeing, all sorts of fun activities. I struggled so hard to do these before and now am having the time of my life. I feel so much better physically that mentally I am new person I meet challenges with a new perspective and find myself handling these life’s challenges with a smile on my face.

I had one particular goal in mind to achieve as a reward to myself for my hard work in changing my diet and exercise and that was to climb the glacier in Lake Louise. I now feel that I am ready and am so looking forward to this achievement.

Although my goal was to be fit enough to climb this glacier, I did not begin to realize just how much this journey has enriched my life. I am healthier mentally and physically I no longer have health issues to worry about, my family is grateful that I will be around longer to enjoy life with them and our wonderful grandchildren. I am so happy with my healthy changes and as a reminder my fitbit continues to keep me honest daily (and my wife). Life is good, Life is great, don’t wait to make these choices late in life start now.

By Allan Louis, First Nations Health Council Interior Region (Okanagan Indian Band)