As I look back on the past seven years, it strikes me that our greatest strength, our diversity, could also be our greatest weakness. The striking diversity of more than 200 communities, can at times, be our greatest weakness.
For several years now, the journey to transforming the world for our children and grandchildren, required us to create the space to listen, to learn, and then to act together. We engage our leaders. In doing so, we account for our work. We hear the issues and questions and we bring them forward to our FNHC and when needed to the FNHA. Always mindful of our role as leaders, advocates and high-level oversight – we do not mix politics with business.
Two months ago, our FNHA turned four years old. Our FNHA went from crawling to walking, and is learning to run. It has grown from a concept first imagined by the First Nations Summit in 1997. Then, First Nations were our only willing partners. The concept of self-determination in health was not embraced by others.
In 2005, the concept of First Nations controlling First Nations Health returned. This time, our government partners shared our vision of self-determination in health. From that 2005 concept, it took six years of years of engagement, dialogue – listening and learning. We took missteps, faltered, fell, but we got up, dusted ourselves off and kept moving. On May 26, 2011, Chiefs mandated us to move forward and create the FNHA.
It took the FNHC and our senior team two years and four months to build the FNHA and to prepare for service delivery. Our agreement with Canada and British Columbia set out five years of hard work. Our dedicated leader, Joe Gallagher and his team carried out this gruelling pace and finished the work for October 1, 2013.
We have found our feet, realized our potential, and committed to our vision – “Healthy, Self-Determining BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities.” Drawing upon our diversity as a strength, we will continue our work. We will set the table, learn to listen, listen to learn, air out fears and strengthen our resolve to work together. From the ground up, community-driven and Nation-based, we will chart our path forward. We will find ways to increase First Nations decision-making. We will work with the FNHA, our provincial and federal Deputy Minister partners to improve services. We will work with our partners to support capacity development with our communities and Nations. At every opportunity, we partner with others that share our vision. We will continue our quest for personal, professional and organizational excellence – to be the best that we can be.
Our governance structure, engagement pathway, and leadership are tried, tested, true, and work. Our Chiefs and Caregivers will help us to move forward in the right direction, changing the world for our children and grandchildren.
I love you my dear FNHC, FNHA, FNHDA family. 2018 is promising to be an exciting and challenging year, so take a break this Christmas season, be with your loved ones, rest, relax, and recharge. We have much work to do next year to create a better world. Listening and learning before we act allows our diversity to become a strength. Focussing on a common vision, while respecting diversity, helps us to move the work forward together. Merry Christmas to all of you and wishing all health and happiness in 2018.
-Grand Chief Doug Kelly, FNHC Chair
[Photo: Grand Chief Doug Kelly and Jennifer Jones, Health Director, Cowichan Tribes]