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Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX Recap


The FNHC would like to thank all of those who attended Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX on May 15-17, 2018. This year, over 700 Chiefs, Leaders, Health Directors, Youth Leaders, Elders, and federal and provincial partners attended the 3-day forum to engage in discussions surrounding the health and wellness of BC First Nations. The forum this year provided an opportunity for Nations to share their own stories and journeys of health and wellness. We are thankful to all of those that took part in this important discussion.

A New Approach for Tripartite Investment in Mental Health and Wellness

Building on the progress of the tripartite health initiative, the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) have agreed to take significant steps to improve mental health and wellness outcomes for First Nation children, families and communities in BC. As announced at the Gathering Wisdom forum, the federal and provincial governments and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will each make an initial investment of $10 million over two years for a total funding commitment of $30 million. In addition, Canada, BC, the FNHC and the FNHA have agreed to work together to develop a tripartite plan to address the need for the renovation, replacement, expansion and construction of Indigenous treatment centers in BC.

Since 2015, the FNHC has been engaging First Nations on the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces shaping the conditions of daily life. Through these engagements, mental health and wellness emerged as the top priority across all regions. Mental health issues have become a lot more common, with a wide variety of people in all countries struggling with their general wellness. These mental health issues can include anxiety and depression, two of the most common mental disorders impacting people’s everyday lives. Luckily, there have been advancements and research has shown that there are some ways to make these disorders more manageable. For example, some people struggling with certain mental health issues have been known to benefit from various CBD products. These products, from companies like CBDistillery, can help reduce stress and anxiety, whilst also promoting general wellness. To find out more, it might be worth reading this CBDistillery review here. Hopefully, with more people being able to manage these illnesses, people will be able to enjoy their lives much more.

The findings that mental health and wellness are a top priority across all nations is consistent with the priorities set out in the Regional Health and Wellness Plans and further reinforces recommendations made by First Nations through extensive engagement done to date on mental health and wellness, including A Path Forward: First Nations Mental Wellness and Substance Use 10-Year Plan.

In the spring of this year, the FNHC started a discussion with First Nations on a new partnership model for mental health and wellness. This initial investment by Canada, BC and the FNHA will support a new approach for funding mental health and wellness services. This funding approach aims to simplify the process for First Nations to access funding by pooling federal and provincial resources for mental health and wellness and establishing new and more flexible funding arrangements that focus on outcomes. As we have heard from First Nations across BC, it is important to knock down silos, remove unnecessary rules, significantly simplify the process to receive and report on funding, and support Nation-based approaches to health and wellness. In taking a new approach with this initial investment, funding will focus on achieving outcomes – not the terms and conditions of a funding agreement.

The initial investment of $30 million over the next two years will focus on the following:

Planning – provide funding for First Nation communities and Nations to develop, renew, or redesign their health and wellness plans in a manner that aligns with their vision of wellness and enhances protective factors associated with positive mental health and wellness outcomes.

Service Delivery – provide funding for Community-Driven and Nation-Based demonstration sites that support enhanced service delivery models for mental health and wellness.

In the weeks ahead, the partners will develop an implementation plan that sets out these processes in more detail, including an approach for First Nations to access funding through this new opportunity. It is important to note that this is an initial investment to support a new and more flexible approach for funding mental health and wellness services. The FNHC is committed to continue its engagement with First Nations on this approach and to secure a funding commitment from Canada and BC to sustain this over the long-term.

Click here to see the full Media Release

Nations Sharing Promising Practices

The purpose of the Gathering Wisdom forum this year was to seek direction on mental health and community-led approaches for addressing the social determinants of health. Based on feedback from past forums, the forum provided an opportunity for Chiefs, Leaders and Caregivers to share promising practices and strategies for improving health and wellness outcomes in their communities. This included:

  • Satsan (Wet’suwet’en), Steven Point (Coast Salish) and Sophie Pierre (Ktunaxa) shared their perspectives on the role of health, healing and relationships in larger discussions on Nation rebuilding.
  • Chief Dean Nelson (Lil’wat Nation), Chief Nathan Matthew (Simpcw First Nation) and Chief Jackie Thomas (Saik’uz First Nation) shared their perspectives on the role of leaders in creating a vision for change in the community.
  • Panel Presentation on wholistic approaches to health and wellness planning that featured the Stikine Wholistic Working Group, the Wet’suwet’en Anuk Nu’ At’en Ba’glgh’iyi z’ilhdic Program, the Syilx Nation, and the Sts’ailes Snowoyelh Program.
  • Terry Cross (Founder of the National Indian Child Welfare Association) and Shirley Williams (Lummi Nation) spoke to the importance of culture and community-based approaches in creating a healthy future for our children.

We would like to thank all of our guest presenters for sharing their perspectives. You can now see all of these presentations online.

Youth Leaders Program

New to the Gathering Wisdom forum this year, the FNHC sponsored 15 Youth Leaders from across BC to attend the forum this year. The Youth Leaders were asked to be part of the forum by listening and learning from the leadership in the room and to share their reflections on the discussion at the end of the forum. We were inspired by the courageous and thoughtful words shared by the Youth Leaders at the end of the forum. As Autumn Walkem from the Nlaka’pamux Nation aptly put it, “I am ready for change. Are you?”

The FNHC would like to personally thank each and every Youth Leader who attended the Gathering Wisdom forum and the Living Markers that supported them throughout. Thank you to:

  • Marcie Pruden, Fraser Salish Region
  • Stanley Daniels, Canim Lake Band, Interior Region
  • Autumn Walkem, Nlaka’pamux Nation, Interior Region
  • Kali Gabriel-Baptiste, Osoyoos Indian Band, Interior Region
  • Daphne McRae, Upper Nicola Band, Interior Region
  • Hannah Olinek, Nak’azdli Band, Northern Region
  • Mikayla Mayner, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Northern Region
  • Jordan Leask, Metlakatla First Nation, Northern Region
  • Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, Fort Nelson First Nation, Northern Region
  • Christopher Haller, Nuxalk Nation, Vancouver Coastal Region
  • Crystal Lewis, Squamish Nation, Vancouver Coastal Region
  • Leonard Nookemis, Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Vancouver Island Region

Honouring Ceremony

The Gathering Wisdom forum this year started with a tribute to Qut’same’t (Elder Leonard George). Leonard George has touched so many lives. The FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA came together to honour the work and legacy of Leonard George in ceremony. We want to acknowledge the George family for allowing us to do this work.

As part of this work at the beginning of the forum, we also took time to acknowledge those that have lost loved ones in the opioid crisis. We heard from Charlene Belleau about the current state of emergency relating to accidental drug overdoses and the importance of strong leadership to stop this crisis. Bev Lambert shared her personal story of how she lost her son to addiction, and encouraged us to share our own personal stories and support each other through our journeys of healing. Grand Chief Doug Kelly led a Call to Action, and invited attendees to join him in promising to live violence free and open our hearts and release the unconditional love within.

As part of this Call to Action, the FNHC invited Chiefs, Leaders and Caregivers to write names and memories of loved ones lost to this crisis on quilting squares. The memorial quilt was unveiled on the final day of the forum as a way to pay respect to those who have been lost and to support each other in our healing journeys. We want to thank all of those that took part in this ceremony. As a next step, the FNHC has committed to bring the memorial quilt to the Regional Caucuses in the fall and to continue the conversation that was started at the Gathering Wisdom forum.

Chief Nathan Matthew speaking during the Role of Leaders in Community Health and Wellness panel

Wholistic Approaches to Health and Wellness Planning panel

Terry Cross of the National Indian Child Welfare Association presenting on “Remembering a Healthy Future”

Memorial quilt for those who have lost loved ones in the opioid crisis

Vancouver Island cultural sharing

Treaty 8 dancers

Video – Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX: Celebrating Five Years Since Transfer

This video introduces leaders to the key themes of Gathering Wisdom, including a reflection on progress since health transfer, healing and resilience, reclaiming our wellbeing, and health as the foundation of nation-rebuilding. It ends with a call to action for leaders to take up this work in their own communities.

Watch the video here!

Upcoming Gathering Wisdom forum materials

In the coming weeks, the FNHC will be producing a full proceedings report on what was heard and learned at the Gathering. This report will include a more detailed summary of each discussion and presentation and the next steps to be taken by the FNHC. Additionally, the entire Gathering Wisdom video will be uploaded for those to watch who could not attend the Gathering.

Our Engagement Story on the Social Determinants of Health and Wellness, 2015-2018

Since 2015, the FNHC has engaged First Nations across BC on the social determinants of health. This summary report has been prepared by the FNHC based on what was shared at the Regional Caucuses, and outlines common concerns, challenges and opportunities across regions.

Click to see the report!