The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) is a provincial-level political and advocacy organization that is representative of and accountable to BC First Nations. The FNHC was created following the negotiating and signing of a series of agreements between First Nations, Canada and British Columbia (BC). The Transformative Change Accord, signed in 2005, committed the signatories (First Nations, Canada and BC) to establish a new relationship based on mutual respect and recognition and to close the social and economic gaps between First Nations and other British Columbians in several areas of health.
In 2006, BC and First Nations entered into a bilateral agreement called the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan. Part of this agreement included the creation of a First Nations Health Council. The federal government joined First Nations and BC in a subsequent agreement that retained most of the direction in the bilateral plan and committed the signatories to develop a tripartite First Nations Health Plan for BC.
The FNHC was established in 2007 and reformed to a regional model in 2010. The role of FNHC is to provide a focus for BC First Nations to continue the work of reforming health care, with the following mandate as outlined in the FNHC Terms of Reference: http://www.fnhc.ca/pdf/FNHC_TOR_2012.pdf
Dedicated political leadership for the implementation of Health Plans
- Provide continued political leadership for implementation of the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan and the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan and subsequent agreements.
- Reflect a philosophy and culture of trust, unity, honest, humility, healthy living, traditional practices and teachings in operations, planning and decision-making.
Support to First Nations in achieving their health priorities and objectives
- Support Community-Driven and Nation-based approaches.
- Promote individual health and wellness responsibilities, including self-care and health literacy.
- Promote the transfer of health services to local and regional levels wherever possible, practical and feasible.
Health Advocacy and Relationships
- Health advocacy, knowledge sharing and collaboration with government partners and others as the highest levels (including internationally).
- Advocacy for service improvements for First Nations.
- Provide a BC First Nations leadership perspective to research, policy and program planning processes related to First Nations health in BC.
- Develop relationships and alliances with other First Nations organizations, governments Ministries and Departments, and others, to achieve progress in social determinants of health.
Politically oversee the transition of FNIH to a new First Nations Health Authority.
Promote and ensure communications, transparency, cost effectiveness and accountability of the FNHC to First Nations.
- Operate to a good governance standard including having an approved and transparent Terms of Reference; transparent processes; active, participatory members; cost-efficiency; professionalism; regular accountability and reporting; on-going evaluation of the role and benefit of the FNHHC.
- Develop and implement a robust and sustainable communications strategy enabled by the Regional Tables and the network of community engagement within the Regions.
As champions of change and personal well-being, our FNHC team leads systems transformation by honouring our ancestral teachings, upholding our governance structures, and building healthy partnerships.
The FNHC share the following vision statement with its respective partners the FNHA and the FNHDA:
Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families and Communities.
We believe that maintaining respectful relationships is fundamental to the achievement of our shared vision. Respectful relationships are built upon the recognition that we all have something to contribute as individuals, and participants in the First Nations health governance structure. Therefore, we commit to treating each other with dignity and generosity, being responsive to one another, and acknowledging that each entity has their own respective processes and practices. We are also committed to respectful interactions with First Nations, tripartite partners, and other collaborators.
We have the historic opportunity to achieve transformative change in First Nations health and wellness, and an obligation to make the most of this opportunity. This will require discipline amongst us, including through: loyalty to one another and our shared vision; upholding and supporting our roles, responsibilities, decisions, and processes; maintaining and nurturing unity and a united front; integrity and reliability in fulfilling our commitments, and accountability to one another for these commitments and contributions; and, solutions-oriented and active participation.
We believe that effective working relationships with First Nations, tripartite partners, and with one another are the foundation for achieving our vision and implementing our health plans and agreements. We commit to fostering effective working relationships and camaraderie underpinned by: trust; honesty; understanding; teamwork; and mutual support. We also acknowledge that humour and laughter are both good medicine, and a good way to build relationships.
We are here because of those that came before us, and to work on behalf of First Nations. We draw upon the diverse and unique cultures, ceremonies, customs, and teachings of First Nations for strength, wisdom, and guidance. We uphold traditional and holistic approaches to health and self-care and strive to achieve a balance in our mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness.
We are humbled and honoured to have been asked by First Nations to work on their behalf to improve health and wellness, and have a moral and personal responsibility to strive for excellence. Excellence means that our outcomes are sustainable, that our processes are professional and transparent, and that we commit to learn continuously – through capacity development opportunities, from each other and from new, different and innovative models worldwide.
We work to improve the health and wellness of all First Nations in BC. Our decision making reflects the best interests of all First Nations, and leads to just and equitable treatment amongst all First Nations communities, First Nations organizations, and across all regions of British Columbia. We are committed to make room for everyone, and are inclusive in our communications, information-sharing, and discussions
Directive #1: Community-Driven, Nation-Based
Directive #2: Increase First Nations Decision-Making and Control
Directive #3: Improve Services
Directive #4: Foster Meaningful Collaboration and Partnership
Directive #5: Develop Human and Economic Capacity
Directive #6: Be Without Prejudice to First Nations Interests
Directive #7: Function at a High Operational Standard
Since that time, guided by the wisdom of our First Nations leaders, the FNHC has provided leadership to:
- The implementation of the Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan and the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan and subsequent agreements. These agreements establish a Tripartite commitment to improve the health and well-being of all First Nations in BC through increased First Nations decision-making, enabled by a new First Nations health governance structure.
- The establishment of the 7 Directives, which describes the fundamental standards and instructions for the new health governance arrangement, 6 values, corporate governance requirements, and competencies for the Board of Directors.
- The establishment of the Governance Structures – FNHC, FNHDA, FNHA, Regional Caucuses structures and mandates, a holistic First Nations Health model.
- The creation of the Governance Processes – the Engagement and Approval Pathway and processes for Reciprocal Accountability.
- Conclude the Health Partnership Accord and sub-agreements to the Framework Agreement, and establish the tripartite Implementation Committee and Implementation Plan.
- Adopting a holistic First Nations health governance model – meaning one that blends the best of available non-profit, corporate, and legislative models.
- The establishment of Regional Offices to bring capacity, communications, collaboration, and planning closer to home, and the development of an annual Community Engagement Plan.
- Support an evaluation of the First Nations health governance structure, to support ongoing learning and improvement.
- Support the ongoing growth and development of work at the regional level, through supporting Regional Caucuses to develop Regional Tables.
In October 2013, BC First Nations achieved a momentous milestone with the transfer of FNIHB-BC to the new FNHA, the first and only province-wide First Nations health authority in Canada. With the FNHA assuming responsibility for programs and services formerly administered by Health Canada, we continue to provide early efforts in transformation stage, through providing oversight to the ongoing transformation of health policy, partnership, and programs in BC, and expanding our efforts into the social determinants of health. We need to ensure that we manage change effectively, and not allowing change to manage us and in a manner that is consistent with the 7 Directives and governance values.