COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – The First Nations Health Council acknowledges that the recent allegations of racism in the provincial health system are disturbing and difficult to hear. They remind us of the need for culturally safe and equitable health care.
These allegations reveal there is much work to do to ensure that there is systemic change. Intentions need to translate to action by every person in the BC Health care system.
The First Nations Health Council appreciates Minister of Health Adrian Dix’s prompt response and appointment of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to investigate this matter. We encourage her investigation to be transparent and involve those directly impacted by the alleged racism. It should include the communities and Nations within the five health regions of BC. Trust is needed for individuals to tell their stories and support meaningful change. Should these allegations be confirmed through the investigation, then we would expect the government to take immediate action against all those involved.
The success of the BC First Nations Health Governance structure is based upon our core set of values, our guiding Seven Directives given to us by BC First Nations, and our Shared Vision Statement and collective goal of “Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families and Communities.”
The First Nations Health Council remains committed to eradicating racism within the health care system, as well as improving both services and First Nations health outcomes. These changes must also come from within the health system in the spirit of reciprocal accountability and in a manner that respects the provincial implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People; particularly, in terms of improving health outcomes.
In 2015, all provincial health authority CEOs signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC. This declaration has now been endorsed by each of the professional health regulatory bodies in BC – a first in Canada – as well as other health partners.
The First Nations Health Council supports this important work, but recognizes that cultural safety is not enough – we need to go beyond the words to support transformational change in the health system, shift attitudes and meaningfully reconcile. We ask British Columbians to stand with BC First Nations on June 21, 2020 for National Indigenous Peoples Day, and commit to ending racism in this generation.