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Archive for July, 2020

Victoria Demonstration Calls Attention to Latest Incident of Alleged Anti-Indigenous Racism in BC


Peaceful gathering held as BC’s Addressing Racism Investigation Underway​

Indigenous leaders and community members held a peaceful protest today at Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital in support of an Indigenous man from T’Sou-ke Nation whose experience in accessing care has resulted in inadequate care and alleged racism. The young man is a member Canadian Armed Forces, and a member of the T’sou-ke First Nation. 

Canada’s colonial history, including residential school and Indian hospitals that harmed Indigenous children and adults with non-consensual medical interventions, continues to haunt us today. Recent allegations of anti-Indigenous racism prompted creation of the Accessing Racism Investigation by the BC Minister of Health in mid-June. The investigation’s existence​ – coupled with today’s demonstration about another incident – remind us all that systemic racism is an all too common experience for Indigenous people in BC.

Accessing Racism Investigation. On June 19, BC’s Minister of Health appointed Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to lead an independent investigation into allegations of Indigenous-specific discrimination in the province’s health care system. Recent examples of Indigenous people being refused respectful or timely medical care remind us that this investigation matters. Addressing racism and achieving health care equity is a shared goal for the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Health Authority. In addition, we are working with our health authority partners to address this across BC.

Indigenous People Urged to Share Their Story. All Indigenous individuals to complete the survey of their experiences within the BC health care system. People can complete the survey online or call and leave a detailed message for the investigation team at 1-888-600-3078 or via email at addressing_racism@gov.bc.ca.


M. Colleen Erickson, Chair of the First Nations Health Authority Board of Directors

“This latest situation shows a need to investigate such occurrences within the healthcare system. We urge everyone to share their story through the online survey addressing racism. Individuals can also leave a detailed message for the investigation team at 1-888-600-3078.”

Charlene Belleau, Chair, First Nations Health Council

“We welcome this investigation into systemic racism in the BC health care system and encourage Indigenous patients and health workers to trust this process and come forward to tell their truth. The allegations that prompted today’s demonstration illustrate how systemic racism is experienced too often by First Nations and Metis people in BC.”

FNHC Weekly Bulletin | Issue 6


The FNHC’s bulletin is designed to provide BC First Nation Chiefs and leaders with a round-up of updates on the COVID-19 pandemic response and other relevant news. For the most current public health guidelines, visit FNHA.ca/coronavirus.

To download a PDF of this issue click here.

Addressing Racism Investigation: Commissioner to join July 16 Town Hall

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond – commissioner for the Addressing Racism Investigation – will join the Thursday July 16 Provincial BC First Nations Chiefs and Leaders Town Hall. Mary-Ellen is the commissioner of the independent investigation into systemic Indigenous-specific racism in health care in BC established by the Minister of Health.

On the Thursday July 16 Town Hall (10:30 am to noon PST), Mary-Ellen will provide:

  • An overview of the investigation’s status and resources, as outlined here.
  • Details on how people can share their experiences via an online survey here or by calling 1-888-600-3078.

To join tomorrow’s call, use the Zoom link below or call toll-free at 1 (855) 703-8985.

Join Zoom Meeting

The FNHC, FNHA and FNHDA issued a statement supporting Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s investigation into systemic anti-Indigenous racism. The statement can be viewed here.

Summary: FNHC Meeting on Advocacy and Engagement Priorities

The FNHC met virtually on June 12 to discuss both immediate and long-term priorities. With the recent FNHA Services Resumption Planning Guide now available, along with related documents such as the Community COVID-19 Safety Planning Guide, the discussion was focused on resuming the priorities of the FNHC.

The Council continues to be mindful that there are many unknowns, including the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 in the fall; however, as we continue to transition to a ’new normal,’ we must plan and prepare.

Some of the discussion topics under review by the FNHC included:

  • Engagement options for the fall and beyond.
  • The FNHC evaluation.
  • Partnership work with BC and Canada.
  • Roles & Responsibilities during the ongoing pandemic.
  • A Social Determinants of Health Strategy.

More details will be shared over the coming weeks and months as they become available.

Illicit Drug-Related Deaths Increase among First Nations during COVID-19

The opioid crisis continues to disproportionately impact vulnerable BC First Nations people – and new data from FNHA shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased challenges for those struggling with addiction. Read the news release from FNHA here.

This new data calls upon us all to work together as communities and Nations to save lives and help the many people who are self-medicating and at a high risk of dying from illicit drug use. It can be challenging to access timely, culturally safe treatment and services for those experiencing addiction. Now, more than ever, our people need this support.

We know that improving mental health and wellness outcomes are best supported through Community-driven, Nation-based solutions that address the root causes of addiction. As part of this healing journey, properly resourced treatment centres and culturally safe harm reduction strategies will be critical moving forward. Making progress in these areas requires working in partnership.  

Both the Government of British Columbia and the First Nations Health Authority have contributed $20 million to build two new treatment centres and renovate others. These centres provide mental health and substance abuse services for First Nations peoples in BC.

This significant investment by the FNHA and the provincial government is an important step to improve accessibility to substance use services for BC First Nations. We look forward to Canada’s confirmation of its respective contribution to these efforts.

Joint FNHC-FNHDA Webinar on FNHA Service Resumption

On June 18, the FNHC, in partnership with the FNHA and FNHDA, hosted an all Chiefs, leaders and Health Directors joint webinar. The session featured senior leaders from the FNHA sharing an overview of the FNHA Services Resumption Guide. Highlights include:

The Health Council is working with FNHA to set up additional topic-specific sessions on service resumption, training and how to best keep the COVID-19 curve flat in BC. If you have suggestions for future webinars please email sharedsecretariat@fnha.ca.

Please send comments or questions about this FNHC Bulletin to: sharedsecretariat@fnha.ca

FNHA, FNHC, FNHDA Issue Statement Supporting Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s Investigation into Systemic Racism


Coast Salish Territory – The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) welcome the launch of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s investigation into systemic racism in BC’s health system.


“We welcome this effort to shine light on the systemic racism that still exists in our province and encourage BC Indigenous patients and health workers within the system to trust this process and come forward to tell their truth about racism,” said Charlene Belleau, Chair of the First Nations Health Council.

Turpel-Lafond, a former judge and longtime children’s advocate in BC  will produce a report on racism in the BC health system following allegations that health-care staff in emergency rooms were playing a “game” to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients.

“Mary Ellen is doing very important work that will have great impact on the future health and wellbeing of First Nations in B.C. and across Canada.  FNHA is extremely pleased to support this work,” said M. Colleen Erickson, Chair of the First Nations Health Authority Board of Directors.

“The FNHA looks forward to the outcomes of the review as a way to accelerate the progress on cultural safety for First Nations of BC,” said Richard Jock, FNHA’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. “It is important people participate in the survey as a way to provide their experiences. FNHA will look to provide appropriate ways to support participants who may be triggered by the final report’s disclosures.”

“The First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) encourages all Health Directors to come forward to share their experiences to encourage First Nation community members to share any incidents that need improvement within the healthcare system.  It is only through a clear identification of incidents that we can strengthen the health care system to ensure only positive experiences and outcomes for First Nations people,” said Keith Marshall, President of the First Nations Health Directors Association.

The FNHA, the FNHDA and the FNHC have been aware of incidents of mistreatment of First Nations people in the health system and have worked hard to embed cultural safety and humility into health care delivery by working with our health partners to raise awareness and train staff. It is clear, however, that much work is still to be done.

Cultural safety and humility are essential dimensions of quality and safety and only a sustained and genuine commitment to action from all leadership paired with concrete actions will lead to the change needed. 

Learn more:

To find out more about First Nations Health Authority, visit: http://www.fnha.ca/

Media contact: John Moody
First Nations Health Authority

​Download this news release in PDF format here​ (PDF)​