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Letter to Chiefs and Leaders on FNHC and INAC MoU

Date:

 

Dear Respected Chiefs and Leaders,

As representatives to the First Nations Health Council (FNHC), we are pleased to share this update on recent developments related to the work of the FNHC.

New Partnership with Canada:

The federal government has established an ambitous agenda for change. The federal government has committed to a renewed Nation-to-Nation relationship with Indigenous peoples on the issues that matter most – issues like housing, employment, health, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education. These commitments come as the result of many years of advocacy and calls to action by our leaders. These commitments are the acknowledgement that the status quo is no longer acceptable and that we will accept nothing less than transformative change in our communities.

On February 14, 2017, the FNHC and the Minister of INAC signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to engage First Nations in BC on ways to improve outcomes for First Nation children, youth and families. This agreement is about engagement. This agreement is about creating forums for First Nations to engage in direct dialogue with INAC on services for First Nation children and families.

To be clear, the FNHC is not negotiating the jurisdiction or transfer of services with Canada and BC. In May 2011, BC Chiefs endorsed 7 Directives to guide the work of the FNHC. As per Directive 6, the FNHC must be without prejudice to First Nations interests. This means the FNHC will never impact on Aboriginal title and rights or the treaty rights of First Nations, and is without prejudice to First Nations interests with respect to any self-government agreements or court proceedings. As members of the FNHC, each of us come from a First Nation. Each of us understand the significance and purpose of this directive. The FNHC exercises due diligence and care to ensure that we do not prejudice First Nations interests.

This agreement presents a pathway for reform. It stands as a commitment to engage in a process that is Community-Driven and Nation-Based, ensuring each Nation has the time, capacity and resources to fully contribute. It is a commitment to engage in a way that is comprehensive, inclusive and community-led, ensuring First Nations are full and equal partners in the development of new policy, structures and programs in BC. It provides a path for First Nations to engage in direct dialogue with INAC on needed investments in capacity and community-based prevention services. It ensures each Nation can advocate for resources to design systems of care that advance their own vision, traditions and values.

Mandate of the First Nations Health Council:

As one of the four entities established by BC First Nations to improve health outcomes, the FNHC is a 15 member political and advocacy body that is appointed by and accountable to Chiefs in each Region. In May 2011, Chiefs endorsed Resolution 2011-01 to establish the new health governance structure.

Chiefs called upon the FNHC to provide political leadership in the implementation of the tripartite health plans and agreements, support health systems transformation, and to build partnerships to make progress on the social determinants of health.

The FNHA has entered its third year of operation and is now setting the stage for the transformation of health programs and services in full partnership with First Nations. With transfer complete, the FNHC is building partnerships with the federal and provincial government and other First Nation organizations to address broader issues that impact health.

As per Resolution 2011-01, the FNHC is mandated to develop relationships and alliances with other First Nations organizations, provincial Ministries and federal Departments to achieve progress on the social determinants of health.

A key directive for the FNHC is to foster meaningful collaboration and partnership to achieve progress on the social determinants of health. This directive acknowledges that no single authority, agency or organization has the capacity to meet the needs of First Nations children and families. We must find ways of working together. The FNHC has engaged other First Nations organizations to discuss opportunities for collaboration.

In October 2015, the FNHC and FNLC agreed to work together on the social determinants of health. The FNHC and FNLC acknowledged that each entity has a responsibility to advocate and to improve outcomes for First Nation children, youth and families. While each entity has distinct governance structures and mandates, the FNHC and FNLC will work together to ensure unity in our advocacy and maintaining a high standard for engaging each Nation on strategic direction.

Next Steps:

In the fall of last year, provincial Deputy Ministers and Assistant Deputy Ministers from the Ministries of Children and Family Development (MCFD), Ecucation, Advanced Education, Justice and Public Safety engaged each Regional Caucus on issues impacting the health and wellness of our people. In many cases, this was the first time senior decision-makers from the Government of BC heard directly from First Nations Chiefs, health leads and service providers. These sessions were constructive with clear recommendations to improve the systems that serve our people.

On February 21, 2017, the Government of BC made public its Budget and Ministry Service Plans for the year ahead. A key feature of the MOU between BC and the FNHC signed in March 2016 was the commitment for provincial Ministries to include the input and recommendations of the Nations in Ministry Service Plans starting in 2017/18. We are pleased to report that each of the Ministries that participated in the Regional Caucus have included new commitments to improve outcomes for First Nations children, youth and families. New commitments include:

  • Ministry of Children and Family Development to provide resources and direct supports to families and communities to ensure that children and youth have every opportunity to safely remain at home with their families
  • Ministry of Children and Family Development to focus on seeking permanent living arrangements outside the child welfare system with a focused effort on improving permanency planning and cultural connections for Indigenous children and youth already in care
  • Ministries of Justice and Public Safety to improve access to services in rural and remote communities with a stronger focus on community-based prevention initiatives and alternate dispute resolution.
  • A government-wide approach to address mental health and wellness and substance use.

This represents a new way of working. For the first time, BC First Nations were meaningfully involved in the planning of the provincial government. While more change is needed, this is an example of how we can bring conversations closer to home and influence the change we wish to see.

As we look ahead to the Regional Caucuses in the spring, we want to support a similar dialogue between First Nations and the federal government.

In Closing:

First Nations in BC are diverse. Each of our Nations is at different stages on their journeys of self-determination. Each of our Nations has distinct visions, perspectives and priorities when it comes to reforming the systems that currently serve our children and families. The current situation is complex. While we are diverse, we all agree that First Nations are best positioned to provide for the safety and wellbeing of their children and families. While each of our Nations will pursue its own path, we are united by a shared vision of healthy, self-determining and vibrant First Nation children, families and communities. It is our hope that we can come together as Nations to share our expertise and bring the best of our thinking to the table as we break the cycle and reclaim the wellbeing of our children, families and communities.

In Wellness,

Signed by Grand Chief Kelly, Ernest Armann, Bev Lambert, Gwen Phillips and Nick Chowdhury

 

 

 

Social Determinants of Health:

The First Nation Perspective on Wellness is a visual depiction of our vision of health and wellness. The fifth circle depicts the social, cultural, economic and environmental determinants of health. In this way, health is an outcome. It is dependent on a number of factors, including early childhood experiences, personal health practices and coping skills, income and employment, health services, gender, genetics, education and social support networks. To improve outcomes, it is important to collaborate across social sectors to influence the factors that impact health.

 

 

Read more on the Social Determinants of Health in this Backgrounder (PDF 502 KB)

 

 


Backgrounder on the MoU

This backgrounder provides more information on the purpose and intent of the agreement recently signed by the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) related to services for First Nation children and families in BC.

Purpose of the Agreement:

The MOU with INAC sets the table for a comprehensive, inclusive and community-led process to improve social services accessed by First Nation children, youth and families in BC

Focus on Root Causes and Social Services:

To reduce the number of First Nation children being taken into care, we must tackle the root causes. This includes mental health and wellness, substance use, intergenerational trauma, inadequate housing, food insecurity and poverty.

The MOU with INAC creates space for communities to talk about the root causes and advocate for new investments in community-based initiatives aimed at tackling them.

Mandate and Process:

The FNHC is a province-wide political and advocacy body. The 15 members of the FNHC are appointed by and accountable to the Chiefs through their respective Sub-Regional Caucuses, Nations and Regional Caucuses.

The FNHC takes its direction from First Nations through discussions at Regional Caucuses and the Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey forum. In May 2011, BC Chiefs endorsed Consensus Paper 2011 and Resolution 2011-01. This mandated the FNHC to continue as a provincial-level political and advocacy body to:

  • Provide political leadership for the implementation of the health plans
  • Support First Nations to achieve their health and wellness priorities
  • Build partnerships to make progress on the social determinants of health
  • Ensure communication, transparency, cost-effectiveness and accountability of the FNHC to First Nations

The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is responsible for planning, delivering and funding all of the health programs previously provided by Health Canada. While the FNHA and the FNHC are partners, each entity has a distinct mandate and role. The FNHA is responsible for operations. The FNHC is responsible for political advocacy and oversight. This structure ensures there is a clear separation of political and operational roles.

Not About Jurisdiction:

The FNHC is not negotiating jurisdiction or assuming new authority for children and family services. The FNHC exercises due diligence and care to ensure that processes and agreements are without prejudice to First Nations interests.

Before, during, or after the engagement, Nations may decide to negotiate jurisdiction with Canada and BC directly. This work rightfully belongs to the Nations.

Not About the Transfer of Services:

This FNHC has not discussed the transfer of children and family services with the Government of Canada or the Province of BC. The FNHC or FNHA is not taking over the administration of the First Nation Children and Family Services Program from INAC.

More Resources and Capacity Coming:

No FNHA health funding will be used to resource the engagement process referenced in the MOU with INAC. The FNHC and INAC have agreed to find new funding to support the engagement process. This new funding stream will be used for engagement purposes only. It does not take away from existing funding available to communities for health, children or families.

The FNHC has heard from many First Nations that capacity is an ongoing challenge. The FNHC has communicated clearly to government that more resources are required to support discussions at the Nation level.

No Impact on Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Decision:

The Government of Canada must meet its obligation to meaningfully invest in and reform its discriminatory practices as per the 2016 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal decision. The MOU with INAC will not interfere in any discussions that Nations or their Delegated Aboriginal Agencies may be having directly with the Government of Canada on investments or delivery of services.

The MOU with INAC will create space for discussion directly with BC First Nations on community-based preventative services. It will also provide a platform for a broader discussion on needed investments in the long-term.

Commitment to Co-Develop New Programs, Structures or Policies:

A key commitment in this agreement is that BC First Nations are full and equal partners in the development of any new policy, structures or processes in BC.

This means INAC must engage meaningfully with the Nations to ensure program reforms support community-based prevention services. This includes the creation of a stronger continuum of care for children and families in BC.

This Work Belongs to the Nations and is Best Discussed in the Regions:

The MOU with INAC will bring discussions closer to home at both the sub-regional and regional level. Through this agreement, Nations will have the opportunity to engage the Government of Canada directly on their priority issues. Through engagement at Sub-Regional Caucuses, Nation Assemblies and Regional Caucuses, Chiefs, caregivers and advocates will be able to engage directly with senior government officials on their own plans for the design and delivery of preventative services for children, youth and families.

Each Nation is at a Different Stage of Development:

First Nations in British Columbia are diverse and the current situation is complex. First Nation children and families are too often served by complex systems, driven by a mix of legislation, policy and standards developed and delivered by different levels of government. There are Nations with years of experience delivering a full range of health and social services, including Delegated Aboriginal Agencies. There are Nations who have established non-profit organizations that now provide preventative services to their communities. There are some Nations that are only served by the Ministry of Children and Family Development. Each Nation is at a different stage when it comes to children and family services.

Building Consensus on New Models:

The FNHC and INAC have agreed to support a Community-Driven, Nation-Based engagement process over a period of 18 months. The engagement process will be consistent with the BC First Nation endorsed ‘engagement and approvals pathway.’  This process will include Regional Caucuses and a minimum of one province-wide Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey Forum. The goal is to build broad consensus on reforms to services and related funding, policy and programs.

Commitment to Address Inequities in Funding, Policy and Programs:

The decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal was clear that the funding formulas used by INAC do not address the real needs of communities. Through this process, there is an opportunity to talk about these inequities and develop approaches that provide more money for prevention, greater flexibility for Nations to design and delivery prevention services, and greater accountability of Canada and BC to BC First Nations.

 

Read the Letter to Chiefs in PDF format here (134 KB)

Read this backgrounder in PDF format here (86 KB)

 

 

Find more details about the First Nations Health Governance Structure in BC here (PDF 950 KB)

 

 

 

First Nations Health Council and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Sign MOU on Root Causes

Date:

On February 14, 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) to improve supports and increase investments for BC First Nations children, youth and families. The MOU will enable BC First Nations to address the root causes of the disproportionate rate of Indigenous children in care.

This achievement represents an important milestone in our work, which began in 2014. At that time the FNHC commenced meeting with BC Deputy Ministers to make progress on social determinants of health as per our mandate.

Significant progress was achieved a year ago when, on March 3, 2016, the Government of BC and the FNHC signed an MOU on the Social Determinants of Health. In September, the Premier announced $2 million in funding to implement this MOU. We want to be absolutely clear: the FNHC is not spending health funding to make progress on the social determinants of health.

So what is this new agreement and why does it matter? In an era of reconciliation we have a willing government partner at the table ready to address historic wrongs. These wrongs contributed to conditions within our communities that have attacked the family unit. The purpose of this agreement is to create space for communities to engage in direct dialogue with INAC on funding, policy and programs to improve the way services for children and families are funded, designed and delivered. With the intent of keeping our families whole, the goal is to increase investment for community-based preventative services.

It is also important to talk about what this agreement is not. Importantly, the FNHC has not discussed the transfer of child and family services with the Government of Canada or the Province of BC. As per Directive 6, the FNHC is without prejudice to First Nations interests and would not enter into discussions on behalf of BC First Nations without clear direction from BC First Nations.

As decision makers, Chiefs and leaders have a responsibility for the safety of their children in their communities as a whole. We need their leadership to come together to provide a clear vision of change on how to break the cycle of collective trauma. By addressing the root causes of children going into care, we have an opportunity to work with our partners to make a substantive generational change.

To seize this opportunity, we look forward to immediate engagement at Regional Caucus sessions this spring (May 2017). The dialogue will pick up where we left off at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey VIII with a specific focus on early childhood development, identifying where investments are needed and agreeing on accountability measures. This is a dialogue that we know we can’t have alone. The FNHC will continue to work with the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) as per the Protocol on the Social Determinants of Health (2015) as well as other First Nation organizations to ensure we bring our best thinking to the table.

In closing, the FNHC and INAC have agreed to find new funding to support the engagement process. This new funding stream will be used for engagement purposes only and will not take away from funding available to communities for health, children or families.

We hope you will join us in celebrating this significant achievement and look forward to engaging leadership in the coming months. If you have any questions at all, please contact your regional representative below.

Download this letter in PDF format here (156 KB)

Download the Memorandum of Understanding here (140 KB)

 

 

 

 

 

2015 Year in Review

Date:

As we begin a new year, the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) wanted to provide an update to First Nations leadership in BC on our work to make progress on the social determinants of health. With the beginning of 2016, it is an opportune time to pause and reflect on where we have been, what we have achieved, and where we seek to move next.

This past year has been full of change. We appreciate the advice and guidance First Nations leadership has provided us in our discussions on the social determinants of health. We are optimistic with the opportunities in front us and mindful of the need to engage our leadership as we take the next steps in developing a ten-year strategy on the social determinants of health.

In this update, you will find a report on our advocacy activities, an update on our work with the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC), and our reflections on the recently completed Regional Caucus sessions.


Report from the Chair

Doug Kelly

Chair, First Nations Health Council

BC First Nations are on a journey together. In May 2011, Chiefs freed ourselves from the insanity of federal and provincial health policies for BC First Nations citizens. While we appreciated the work of Health Canada, our Chiefs believed that anything that others do for us – we could do better for ourselves. Giving ourselves freedom required our Chiefs and Health Directors to overcome fears and doubts. We engaged in sub-caucuses, regional caucuses, and province-wide to air out fears, questions, and doubts. Together, we overcame our fears and created our own First Nations Health Authority.

Just over two years ago on October 1, 2013, the First Nations Health Authority began to manage and deliver all of those services once delivered by Health Canada.  In a very short time, we built a new first-of-its-kind First Nations Health Authority.  The first-of-its-kind in Canada, we are working together to achieve better health outcomes for all our citizens. We work for those at home and those living away from home. Together we will transform health policies, programs, and services. The First Nations Health Authority will do things differently and achieve improved health outcomes for our people.

Chiefs understood that we cannot achieve our Vision Statement of “Healthy, Self-Determining, and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities” by transforming the sickness system. Chiefs understood that in addition to creating a new model of health governance that we had to make progress in the social determinants. As we transform the sickness system into a wellness system, we must also advocate for transformation of other federal and provincial programs.

When it comes to First Nations and Aboriginal policies, the federal government keeps doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Yes, this is the definition of insanity. Yet, it is also a simple and shameful fact.

Chiefs mandated the First Nations Health Council to advocate and to make progress in the social determinants. The Government of Canada agreed to an annual meeting of Deputy Ministers with the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Health Authority. The purpose of this meeting is to make progress on the social determinants. The Province of BC agreed to an annual meeting of Deputy Ministers with the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Health Authority. The purpose of this meeting is to make progress on the social determinants.

Achieving transformative change requires leadership, organization, vision, and a clear purpose or mission. Past efforts at transformation often failed because of a failure to organize properly. When governments confront opportunities, they confront it like a banker afraid of losing money. If there is any unresolved conflict – the banker flees. So does the government.

On October 1, 2015, the First Nations Leadership Council and the First Nations Health Council signed a Social Determinants Protocol in a sacred ceremony. Our leadership and our organizations will work together. Working together, we will do things differently and we will make progress in the social determinants.

As we worked together to create agreement to build the First Nations Health Authority, we learned about the forces of status quo. Everywhere, in all organizations, at all levels – there are people very happy with the status quo. These folks and their families are doing well.  These folks believe that any effort to improve health outcomes or make progress in social determinants poses a threat to their well-being.

During the fall and early winter of 2015, the First Nations Health Council carried out very successful regional engagements. We presented our strategy to make progress on social determinants. We aired out questions, comments, and concerns. Chiefs and leaders in each of the regions expressed support for moving the work forward. We will continue working with our regions to set priorities, develop ten-year plans, and to build on-the-ground capacity to do this.

Santa travelled through Canada two months early and gave Canadians an early present.  Perhaps, Canadians gave themselves an early Christmas present on October 19, 2015. The new federal government, led by the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, has set a new tone and made clear commitments to address the needs of First Nations. It is clear that the new Prime Minister listened to Chiefs as he travelled across the country as a Member of Parliament and then as the Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.

There is a remarkable change in the energy in the early engagement between the Prime Minister and Cabinet members and Chiefs. This positive energy is making its way through central agencies and the ranks of Deputy Ministers and senior officials. The First Nations Health Council is prepared to do our share of the work to make progress on social determinants. We are meeting with Cabinet Ministers and other senior government officials to give them briefings on our mandate, our plans, and our approach to collaborating with Canada and the Province of BC.

In 2016, the forces for transformative change must defeat the forces for status quo.  Just as we overcame our fears of transformative change to create the BC First Nations Health Authority – we will overcome the forces of status quo and make progress in the social determinants. When Chiefs freed themselves from the insanity of federal and provincial policies on health – we created a pathway and a template to make progress on social determinants.

The First Nations Health Council is excited, motivated, and determined to overcome the forces of status quo. We will meet with the federal and provincial Deputy Ministers in 2016.  As our work proceeds, we will keep you informed. The First Nations Health Council wishes you and your families a healthy, prosperous and successful 2016.

 

Sincerely,

Doug Kelly

Chair, First Nations Health Council

 

FNHC and FNLC Sign Protocol on the Social Determinants in Sacred Ceremony

Protocol signing on October 1, 2015 in the Charlie Longhouse,
Sts’ailes.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip signing the Protocol at the Interior
Regional Caucus Session, November 2015.

The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) and the FNHC have committed to work together to make progress on the social determinants of health. With every significant agreement made on our health journey – we marked that accomplishment with ceremony.

In this spirit, the FNLC and the FNHC signed the Protocol on the Social Determinants of Health in a sacred ceremony at the Charlie Longhouse in Sts’ailes territory on October 1, 2015. This Protocol confirms a shared commitment to ongoing collaboration, information sharing, and coordinated action in addressing the social determinants of health. It grounds the work of the FNLC and the FNHC and reminds us of the importance of working together to fulfill our shared objective to improve health and wellness outcomes by improving the overall quality of life for First Nations children, families, and communities in BC.

With the signing of this protocol, the FNLC and the FNHC have established a new relationship for addressing the social determinants of health. We look forward to working with the FNLC to fulfil our joint commitment to make progress on the social determinants of health in order to improve the quality of life of BC First Nations.

“My heart is full of good feelings. I am very proud of the First Nations Leadership Council and the First Nations Health Council for coming together. The work of transformative change is heavy. The First Nations Health Council cannot do this work on our own. The First Nations Leadership Council cannot do this work alone,” said First Nations Health Council Chair, Grand Chief Doug Kelly. “We need to help one another. We need to carry this work together. We have promised our Chiefs and our communities that we will work together to build One Heart, One Mind, and One Spirit. The First Nations Health Council looks forward to working with the First Nations Leadership Council as we seek to make progress on the Social Determinants of Health.”

 

Top 10 Things to Know About a Ten-Year Wellness Determinants Strategy

In 2014, the FNHC started a dialogue with First Nations leaders and health leads on the concept of a ten-year plan to make progress on the social determinants of health. Since that time, the discussion has continued to evolve. To provide an update on our progress, we wanted to take the time to answer ten of the most frequently asked questions about our work.

1. What is the Ten-Year Wellness Determinants Strategy?

In 2005, the First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) developed a First Nations Health Blueprint for British Columbia. Originally prepared for First Ministers Meetings in 2004 and 2005, the Blueprint formed the foundation of the Transformative Change Accord (2005) and the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (2007). Similar to Blueprint, the ten-year strategy is a process of planning where First Nations work to build consensus on priorities relevant to the social determinants of health. This ten-year Strategy will inform advocacy with the Government of Canada and the Province of British Columbia.

2. What are the social determinants of health?

Our opportunities for better health begins where we live, learn, work and play. Our health is influenced by multiple factors, which include health, education, employment and skills development, economic opportunities, housing, infrastructure, environment, child and family development, and culture and language. From this perspective, health is an outcome. It is an outcome of factors that are interdependent and interconnected. To improve overall health outcomes, attention must be paid to the determinants of wellness.

3. What is the FNHC Proposing to do?

Similar to the tripartite partnership in health, the FNHC is advocating to establish a tripartite partnership that will make progress on the social determinants of health. Informed by the health and wellness priorities of First Nations in each region, the FNHC will advocate for concrete commitments and actions in the form of a Ten-Year Tripartite Wellness Strategy.

4. Where does the FNHC mandate come from?

The FNHC was established in 2007 to implement the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (2007). In 2011 and 2012, BC First Nations endorsed Consensus Papers and Resolutions that mandated the FNHC to advocate on matters related to First Nations health and wellness, support health systems transformation, and build partnerships to make progress on the broader determinants of health.

5. What are Deputy Minister Tables?

The Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance (2011) is a legal agreement adopted by the Government of Canada, the Province of British Columbia and BC First Nations. This legal agreement primarily describes the process for transferring federal health programs and services to First Nations control. It also sets out commitments of the parties to annual meetings between the FNHC and Deputy Ministers for Canada and BC to discuss issues related to the social determinants of health. The FNHC is currently working with Deputy Ministers federally and provincially to bring clarity to these legal commitments and establish regular meetings.

6. What is the Engagement and Approval Pathway?

The Engagement and Approval Pathway is a process last used by the FNHC in 2011 and 2012 when BC First Nations endorsed Consensus Papers at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IV and V. This is a proven process that is based on the principle of reciprocal accountability and designed to ensure engagement upholds Community-Driven, Nation-Based processes. The Engagement and Approval Pathway starts with dialogue, continues with consensus building, and ends with a decision made by BC First Nations leaders at the Gathering Wisdom forum.

7. How will priorities be determined?

In the early stages of the work, the FNHC will use the Engagement and Approval Pathway to determine high-level priorities and set strategic direction on the social determinants of health. Similar to the direction provided by BC First Nations in Consensus Papers 2011 and 2012, the FNHC envisions a process of regional planning where each Regional Caucus develops and endorses a Regional Social Determinants Strategy. These regional strategies will set out priority areas, specific actions and key partners to work with in each region.

8. Where is funding coming from?

Currently, no new funding for this work is required. By using our existing engagement network, we can support cost-effective engagement with First Nations in each of the five regions.

9. How will this work impact the First Nations Health Authority?

While the FNHC and FNHA share a vision and values as partners in the First Nation health governance structure, we operate independently of each other. The FNHA is mandated to plan, design, deliver and manage First Nation health programs and services. The FNHC is mandated to build partnerships to make progress on the broader determinants of health. As a health and wellness partner to BC First Nations, the FNHA continues to work with First Nations in the design, delivery, management and improvement of First Nation health services, including improvements to the First Nation Health Benefits (FNHB) program. This work will not distract from the work of the FNHA as a service provider and partner to BC First Nations.

10. How will this work impact the capacity of my community?

One of the most commonly cited concerns is capacity. The social determinants are complex and require the participation and input of multiple parties. We do not want to overburden our administrators with new or more work. In the short-term, the FNHC will focus much of its effort to engage First Nations leaders on governance matters. In the medium-term, the FNHC will advocate for additional resources to support communication, collaboration and planning at local levels. Similar to the Community Engagement Hubs established for our work in health, it will be important to consider how best to support comprehensive community planning and collaboration among First Nations.

 

Report on the Regional Caucuses and Next Steps for Engagement

The Northern Caucus showing off their new regional colours in October 2015.

The Regional Caucuses are a critical component of our First Nation health governance structure. The Regional Caucuses provide a forum for First Nations leaders and health leads to share information and perspectives, set strategic direction on regional matters, and provide direction to regional representatives of the FNHC. This last round of Regional Caucuses provided time for the FNHC to update on progress and to engage First Nations leaders and health leads on next steps in this process.

As part of this, we took the time to reflect on and define our shared vision statement of Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant First Nation Children, Families and Communities. We also took the time to discuss a Community-Driven, Nation-Based approach for developing a strategy for the social determinants that reflects regional and provincial priorities.

To maintain our high standard for engagement with First Nation leaders and health leads, the FNHC agreed to once again use the Engagement and Approval Pathway to support informed, consensus-based decision-making. The Engagement and Approval Pathway was last used in 2011 and 2012 when BC First Nations endorsed Consensus Papers to define the structures, standards and operations of the First Nation health governance structure. Similar to 2011 and 2012, the FNHC will engage First Nations through Regional Caucuses to build consensus on common perspectives and priorities related to the social determinants of health.

As presented at the Regional Caucuses, the FNHC proposed the following steps for 2015 and 2016:

 

  • Fall 2015 – start a dialogue on the social determinants with leaders and health leads at the Regional Caucus
  • Winter and Spring 2016 – FNHC to develop a guidebook on the social determinants to support an on-going dialogue with each Regional Caucus
  • Spring and Summer 2016 – FNHC to develop a regional summary report to begin building consensus on regional priorities and interests
  • Fall 2016 – BC First Nations to review results of engagement and deliberate a Consensus Paper at Gathering Wisdom VIII
  • Winter and Spring 2017 – Regional Caucus to develop Regional Social Determinants Strategy

 

In the months ahead, the FNHC will review the outcomes of our regional dialogue. Informed by this dialogue, the FNHC will develop a set of engagement tools that can be used to support an ongoing discussion with First Nation leaders and health leads on core concepts and priorities. As part of this review, the FNHC will discuss the format and structure of Regional Caucuses to ensure First Nations are able to fully and effectively participate in the process as the dialogue evolves and extends beyond health services.

We invite you to visit the FNHC website to receive the latest news and updates – www.fnhc.ca.

Download a PDF of the FNHC 2015 Year in Review here (3.91 MB)

The Interior Caucus honouring Tsilhqot’in Chiefs for their historic Supreme Court victory in November 2015. 

2015 Regional Caucus Photo Gallery

 

Download a PDF of the FNHC 2015 Year in Review here (3.91 MB)

First Nations Health Council Discouraged By Latest Provincial Child Welfare Report

Date:

Coast Salish Territory – Vancouver BC – The provincial BC First Nations health and wellness advocacy body, the First Nations Health Council (FNHC), is deeply discouraged with the approach taken by the Province of British Columbia in the release of the Plecas Review, Part One: Decision Time.

The Plecas Review was prepared without consulting First Nations in British Columbia. As the report describes, 60.6 percent of the 7,200 children in care across British Columbia are Aboriginal. This report does not account for or reflect First Nations perspectives and vision of services for children, youth and families in British Columbia. The exclusion of First Nations in the development of this report further contributes to the erosion of First Nations confidence and trust in the Ministry of Children and Family Development (MCFD).

On December 15, 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will release its final report. In this report, the TRC will restate its call for fundamental change to the child welfare system in Canada. The TRC has been clear that the current crisis of First Nations children in care is a direct consequence of failed policy. While the Government of Canada has committed to implement the TRC calls to action in full partnership with First Nations across Canada, the Premier of British Columbia has provided no indication or interest to take similar action. The TRC report reminds us that no longer can the Province of British Columbia make decisions about us, without us.

The FNHC is extremely troubled with the conclusion of Mr. Plecas that critical incidents and deaths of children in care is accepted as an inevitability. This is completely inconsistent with the FNHC vision of healthy, self-determining and vibrant First Nation children, families and communities and a serious risk for the wellbeing of our children. It is our perspective that more must be done to take care of those children that find themselves in the most complicated circumstances. This will require concerted and coordinated action to restore family and community connectedness, improve social conditions, and address the social challenges inherent to the current epidemic of First Nations children in care.

In 2015, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) and the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) released a report titled Growing up in British Columbia. While data on First Nations children and youth is limited, the report clearly signals that historic inequities continue. This report calls for a government-wide response from the Province of British Columbia and collaboration with First Nations to address the upstream factors that shape the social determinants of health.

The FNHC has a rich history of partnership with the Province of British Columbia in the area of health. Since 2007, the FNHC and the Province of British Columbia have made progress toward the shared vision of healthy, self-determining and vibrant BC First Nation children, families and communities playing an active role in decision-making regarding their individual and collective wellness.

In 2013, this partnership resulted in the transfer of federal health programs and services to a first of its kind province-wide First Nations Health Authority. This is a significant step toward improving health and wellness services for First Nations in British Columbia. While the FNHC agrees that more must be done to overcome current challenges, this must be done in full partnership with First Nations. The health partnership between the FNHC and the Province of British Columbia is an example of what can be achieved when First Nations and the provincial government collaborate on common goals.

 

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Media Inquiries

First Nations Health Council

604-831-4898

Collaboration and Partnership Working Group Update

Date:

The members of the Collaboration and Partnership Working Group of the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) are pleased to provide this update regarding plans for our annual meetings with federal and provincial Deputy Ministers, and plans for regional engagement on a 10-year Wellness Strategy.

We also want to take this opportunity to set the record straight on false rumours circulating about the work of the FNHC. It is rumoured that the FNHC and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) are negotiating the transfer of the First Nations Child and Family Services program from the AANDC and MCFD to First Nations control – and thereby jeopardizing the decision of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal case on First Nations child welfare. Another rumour is that the FNHC is operating outside the mandate approved by BC Chiefs and Leaders. We assure you that these rumours are all wrong.

The FNHC and the FNHA are not negotiating the transfer of First Nations child and family services. While the FNHC and FNHA share a vision and values as partners in the First Nations health governance structure, we operate independently of each other. BC First Nations gave us different mandates along with a directive to keep business and politics separate. The FNHA mandate and work focuses on the delivery of First Nations health programs and services, while the FNHC focuses on political advocacy and is accountable to BC First Nations. The FNHC mandate is outlined in detail within a series of Consensus Papers, and political and legal agreements endorsed by resolution of BC First Nations. The work of the FNHC is dedicated to fulfilling its powerful mandate to contribute to the shared vision of “Healthy, Self-Determining, and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities.” The FNHC is interested in supporting BC First Nation Chiefs and Leaders in the areas of wellness determinants such as housing, justice, environment, and healthy child development. The FNHC has not been given a specific mandate to negotiate the transfer of First Nations child and family services.

We have been hard at work, implementing the direction BC First Nation Chiefs and Leaders provided within the British Columbia Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nations Health Governance  (BC Tripartite Framework Agreement). Within this agreement, the FNHC, federal and provincial government committed to establish tables to make progress on the social determinants of health. In the coming months, FNHC members will meet with federal Deputy Ministers to plan a productive annual meeting between FNHC and federal Deputy Ministers. FNHC members are making significant progress with the planning for a productive annual meeting between FNHC and provincial Deputy Ministers.

At the BC First Nations Leadership and Health Directors Day at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey VII, we began a dialogue about the need to improve the social determinants of health as part of a holistic First Nations Perspective on Wellness. We also began a dialogue about a plan for a 10-year Wellness Strategy to achieve progress in these areas. Respected Elder Shane Pointe told us that the first job of a leader is to keep the children safe. To keep our children safe, leaders and warriors must look after our women. Chief Charlene Belleau and Irene Johnson gave Grand Chiefs, Tribal Chiefs, Hereditary and elected Chiefs a commitment stick to end violence against First Nations women and girls. We talked about the need to improve outcomes for all First Nations children and youth, from the strongest to our most vulnerable. Chiefs, Leaders and community members had their first opportunity to voice their fears, concerns, questions, and feedback in an open forum.

To support the work on healthy First Nations child and youth development, the FNHC has asked for help and expert advice from our best and most passionate champions of First Nations children and youth – Cindy Blackstock of the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond of the Office of the Representative for Children and Youth.

During the 2015 Fall Regional Caucus engagement sessions, the FNHC will continue a dialogue, and Chiefs and Leaders within each region will have the space to begin creating their own 10-year Regional Wellness Strategy. By working together within regions, Chiefs and Leaders can fully participate in community-driven and Nation-based decisions about improving policies, programs and services to better support children, youth, and families within communities. By working together within regions, Chiefs and Leaders can substantially improve wellness outcomes, and create a better future for First Nations children, families, and communities.

In order to do this important work, we need our Chiefs and leaders in each of the regions to develop a 10-year Wellness Strategy to give the FNHC direction on priorities and strategies for the FNHC meeting with federal and provincial Deputy Ministers. Should you have any additional comments or questions, please feel free to reach out to your regional FNHC Collaboration and Partnership Working Group representative listed below.

We also encourage you to visit the FNHC website at www.fnhc.ca for updates on our progress, the upcoming fall engagement sessions, and other latest news. Wishing you a safe and healthy summer, and we look forward to seeing you at the next regional caucus sessions.

Download this letter in PDF format here (182 KB)

10-Year Wellness Strategy – Resource links

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action (2015)

Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples (1996)

Blackstock, Cindy. “Reconciliation Means Not Saying Sorry Twice: Lessons from Child Welfare in Canada,” in From Truth to Reconciliation: Transforming the Legacy of Residential Schools (2008)

Growing Up In BC – 2015, Joint Report by the Representative for Children and Youth (RCY) and the Office of the Provincial Health Officer (2015)

Representative for Children and Youth. Paige’s Story: Abuse, Indifference and a Young Life Discarded (2015)

Representative for Children and Youth. Lost in the Shadows: How a Lack of Help Meant a Loss of Hope for One First Nations Girl (2014)

Representative for Children and Youth. Not Fully Invested: A Follow-up Report on the Representative’s Past Recommendations to Help Vulnerable Children in BC (2014)

Representative for Children and Youth. When Talk Trumped Service: A Decade of Lost Opportunity for Aboriginal Children and Youth in BC (2013)

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2008)

Report of the Chair- May 28, 2015

Date:

Doug Kelly with a commitment stick

Status Quo – is a noun that means the current situation or the way things are now.

Fear – is a noun that means an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat.

Power – is a noun that means the ability to do something or act in a particular way, or the capacity or ability to direct or influence the behavior of others or the course of events.

Change – is a noun that means the act or instance of making or becoming different.

Courage – is a noun that means the ability to act in spite of fear or strength in the face of pain or grief.


 

On Tuesday, May 5, 2015, Chiefs and Health leaders gathered for a leadership forum.  Our dear respected Musqueam Elder Shane Point opened our forum with words of wisdom, teaching, and encouragement.  Elder Point reminded us that the first job of a leader is to make sure that our children are safe.  In making certain that our children are safe, leaders must make certain that our women, the mothers of our children, are safe.  Shane was humbled to receive a pair of small hand paddles in the Gathering Wisdom conference bag.  He invited Chiefs and leaders to open their bags and to remove the paddles.  Chiefs and leaders tapped their paddles together as Shane offered a chant and prayer.

Shane reminded us that the gift of a paddle is a high honour.  When we receive a paddle, the host is inviting Chiefs to join the canoe and to paddle.  Shane prayed that leaders would paddle together and make sure that our children and the mothers, our women, are safe.

After the opening courtesies, we heard from a very powerful panel. We heard first from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond the Representative for Children and Youth.  Mary Ellen called upon Chiefs to provide leadership.  Too many of our children are in the care of others.  We need to keep our children connected to their families and cultures.  This is the work of Chiefs and leaders.

Chief Charlene Belleau and Irene Johnson issued a call to action on ending violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls.  Chief Charlene presented the cold facts about the violence against our women.  Irene shared her powerful and compelling story of trauma, healing, and forgiveness.  Chief Charlene Belleau called upon Grand Chiefs, Hereditary Chiefs, elected Chiefs, and Tribal Chiefs to join her at the front.  Charlene gave the Chiefs a “Commitment” sticks.  She called upon the Chiefs to work hard together to ending violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls.

Charlene explained that when we are engaged in battle to end violence against our women – we tether ourselves to the commitment stick and plant in the ground.  When the battle gets tough, the commitment stick keeps us from running.

Our dear Elder and our women leaders demanded action to transform the Status Quo for our children and women.  Our dear Elder and women leaders recognized the responsibilities of leaders to make sure that the children and mothers are safe.  To help us, to give us strength, our Elder gave us teachings and encouragement.  Our women leaders gave us a commitment stick.  As tough as the battle gets, we cannot run.  We must see this work to a conclusion.

The First Nations Health Council is responsible for leadership and advocacy.  I accepted the gift of a commitment stick.  We are in this battle to keep our children and the mothers safe.

Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Chair, First Nations Health Council

Image taken from Global News

Chair’s Report April 2015

Date:

Call to Action to end Violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls

In Ottawa, on February 27, 2015, First Nations leaders met with provincial government representatives and federal ministers Bernard Valcourt (Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada) and Kellie Leitch (Labour & Status of Women).  At this first National Roundtable on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the families talked about their daughters, sisters, and mothers.  The families demanded justice and action from governments.

Ernie Crey, Cheam Councillor, has been a vocal advocate for Murdered and Missing Aboriginal women. MARR Minister John Rustad invited Ernie to attend the national roundtable. Ernie was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances- Minister Rustad briefed Ernie upon his return to BC.

Ernie conveyed that he felt encouraged that the National Roundtable took place.  However, he expressed concern that the governments seemed to be struggling with next steps.  Ernie felt hopeful that the commitment for annual meetings would create the space for long overdue action.  During our discussion, Ernie encouraged me as the FNHC Chair to take a leadership role in helping the government.  I informed Ernie about the commitment for annual FNHC meetings with federal and provincial Deputy Ministers and about our progress with BC Deputy Ministers.  Ernie was informed that FNHC is working to organize our first meeting with federal Deputy Ministers.

On March 11, 2015, I attended a “Circle of Leaders Gathering – Call to Action to End Violence against Aboriginal Women and Girls.”  Chief Charlene Belleau invited the First Nations Leadership Council and other leaders to participate.  From this gathering, we heard about the importance of male leaders standing up and telling their stories.  We heard about the importance of opening a dialogue in our communities – not to judge or condemn, but to seek healing of both the victims and the offenders.

BC Chiefs mandated the First Nations Health Council to advocate on health and the broader social determinants of health. The Vision statement for the FNHC/FNHDA/FNHA is  “Healthy, Self-Determining, Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities.”  To achieve our vision statement, the FNHC will have to advocate.  We will have to advocate for justice for our missing and murdered women, men, and girls.  We will have to advocate for creating safety for our women, girls, children and families.

As difficult and as challenging as this work is,  we must step up,provide leadershipand begin a dialogue.  We must seek healing for both the offended and the offender.  We must seek other like-minded leaders and organizations to do this work together.

Mental Health & Substance Use

As some of you may know, I have been walking with my daughter as she confronts her addiction to heroin.  In walking with her, I see dedicated caregivers devoted to helping others.  I also see gaps in services.  I also see poorly governed organizations that do not provide quality services.  I see the need to bring in other organizations to provide safe shelter for our people.  We need to collaborate with likeminded leaders and organizations to provide shelter, pre-treatment support, post treatment support, and culturally appropriate programs and services.

Willie Charlie and I met with Sts’ailes caregivers on March 3rd.  We talked about culture.  We talked about ceremonies and rituals.  We talked about government silos.  We talked about the need to integrate multiple federal departments, BC Ministries, and First Nations programs.  We talked about past successes and the need to redesign programs and services.

A recent cluster of youth suicides in the Fraser-Salish region resulted in a call for action from our health leaders and caregivers to prevent youth suicide.  Willie Charlie and the Fraser Salish Regional team planned a sacred ceremony for April 1.  At this ceremony, our family honoured the caregivers that work with our youth.  We also called upon our dear aunties and uncles to brush off every participant.  At the close of this sacred ceremony –we called for action.  We will be calling upon all of the organizations and caregivers to work together to knock down silos, to integrate programs/services, and to act together to prevent suicides.

On March 26, the Fraser Aboriginal Health Steering Committee met.  We met our new CEO – Michael Marchbank.  We talked about the need to improve services noted above.  We also talked about the need to confront racism and stereotypes in Fraser hospitals.  We honoured Lois Dixon for her thirty plus years of service to Fraser Health and wished her well in her retirement.

Collaboration Partnership Working Group

The Collaboration and Partnership Working Group has been working to develop a proposal as requested by Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.  The proposal builds on our success in health and outlines a process for First Nations control over Child Welfare Services in BC.

To date, the Working Group has reviewed two drafts of this proposal and earlier this week gave direction on the final draft.  The final draft proposal will be reviewed with Agency Directors Chairs – Bill Yoachim and Mary Teegee, RCYO Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, the First Nations Leadership Council and the Leadership Collaboration for Social Policy Forum. Following this round of input, we plan to bring a final and polished proposal to review with the FNHC at our meeting in early May.

The Working Group believes that the approach we are proposing addresses issues and concerns in a good way.  By building upon the strengths of the engagement pathway, we will seek a consensus in each region.  From five regional consensus papers – we will develop one final FNHC consensus paper.

Information Sharing

Sharing the story of the Made-in-BC Tripartite Health Transfer is ongoing. Other provinces, regions and federal agencies ask the FNHC and FNHA to share information about the work to create the First Nations Health Authority.  Recently, AANDC has contracted negotiators to meet the commitments described in various agreements with Nunavut.  As part of their fact finding process, these negotiators wanted to learn from our negotiations and the outcomes that resulted in the First Nations Health Authority. FNHC and FNHA shared information and lessons learned over a conference call.

On March 13th, a delegation of Chiefs and leaders from southeast Saskatchewan attended our FNHA offices in West Vancouver. These Saskatchewan Chiefs and leaders came to learn from us about the process of negotiations. The delegation reached out to the FNHA for advice on setting up their own First Nations Health Authority.  We gave them a tour, shared information, and addressed their questions.

Some of the key messages to the group included:

  • Determine who your partners are going to be and the climate you are going to be working in.
  • Develop a strategy and a course of action to guide your work.
  • Gather the human resources and tools you will need to create a climate of competency and legitimacy in your organization.
  • Find allies and champions within your partner organizations to ensure the work progresses in a timely fashion.
  • Expect resistance to change, but finds ways help people change the way they think in order to get the work done.
  • Ensure you look at all revenue streams and find hidden opportunities in service delivery.
  • Separate Business from Politics.
  • Remember your mandate.
  • Know that transition and transformation are continuous and on-going.
  • Changing to a Health and Wellness model is critical to improving health outcomes for First Nations.

In March, I attended a meeting hosted by the First Nations Leadership Council which brought together a number of First Nations organizations to talk about our respective mandates and to look for ways to work together.

FNHA Chair in Heart Health and Wellness

I attended the public announcement of the FNHA Chair for Heart Health and Wellness.  This initiative results from a discussion that Grand Chief Ed John had with his heart specialist.  Joe Gallagher worked with partner organizations to create this new position. Grand Chief Ed John participated in this announcement and shared his personal story. The Chair will lead research and education in policy related to heart health, disease prevention and control associated with chronic diseases among First Nations people. This will provideinvaluable direction and a guiding voice in the area of cardiac health and its wellness determinants. The Chair will provide an active leadership voice locally, provincially and nationally, and will advance the understanding of strategies to develop a program of excellence in First Nations wellness and disease prevention.  Read the release

Ceremonies

Seabird Island has opened a pharmacy located in their health center.  In addition to community health programs, the Seabird Island Health Centre offers dental and physician services.  Called as a witness, I was pleased to respond to the work of the grand opening. It was a great event.

On March 28, along with members of the FNHC, I attended a sacred ceremony in Sechelt.  The BC Ministry of Health Services, the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority and Sechelt First Nation renamed the St. Mary’s Hospital to Shishalh Hospital.  It was a beautiful ceremony.  Called as a witness, I was proud to stand with Willie, Leah, and Ernest to respond to this sacred ceremony.

Conclusion & Wellness Update

April promises us a busy month.  I have been training for the 10 km Vancouver Sun Run and Times Colonist Run in late April.  The early spring has meant an early arrival of my allergies and the development of vertigo.  As it is not a good thing to run while feeling the effects of vertigo I have not had the ideal training or preparation for the pending 10KM’s. I am focusing on developing my wind and endurance with fartlek training on shorter runs.  I am feeling much better and should have no problem completing the runs.  I will not break personal records for the runs but I will cross the finish line.

I am excited about our work.  The ceremonies cleansed me, renewed my energy, and gave me strength to carry on.

Hoping that all is well with you my brothers and sisters, I look forward to seeing you all at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey on May 5-7th.

Doug Kelly, First Nations Health Council Chair

Life is good, Life is great, don’t wait to make these choices late in life – start now

Date:

I have spent most of my lifetime working hard to survive financially ensuring my family needs were met. I soon realized that was not enough, my physical and mental health was declining it was time that fitness became one of my top priorities.

I found myself on a new journey in life that included a better diet and an exercise program.

I had joined a gym which was a positive step, yet I still realized that no matter how much I worked out in the gym changes were slow and I was getting frustrated. I needed help to learn the proper way to work out to strengthen my core and make my efforts count.

It was then that I found a trainer to assist me in my wellness. The first thing that they explained was that I could workout everyday but if I did not make healthy food choices and begin a proper diet I was defeating my purpose in the gym. I also needed to follow up with my changes in my everyday actions. Study the proper food choices and when to eat these foods during the day too benefit my daily activities. To exercise when I could fit it into work day, a walk at lunch take the stairs not the elevator simply but invigorating ways to help me feel energized.

In changing my journey, life became so fulfilling.

All the activities I struggled to do or wished I could do I am now enjoying.

I am snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, canoeing, all sorts of fun activities. I struggled so hard to do these before and now am having the time of my life. I feel so much better physically that mentally I am new person I meet challenges with a new perspective and find myself handling these life’s challenges with a smile on my face.

I had one particular goal in mind to achieve as a reward to myself for my hard work in changing my diet and exercise and that was to climb the glacier in Lake Louise. I now feel that I am ready and am so looking forward to this achievement.

Although my goal was to be fit enough to climb this glacier, I did not begin to realize just how much this journey has enriched my life. I am healthier mentally and physically I no longer have health issues to worry about, my family is grateful that I will be around longer to enjoy life with them and our wonderful grandchildren. I am so happy with my healthy changes and as a reminder my fitbit continues to keep me honest daily (and my wife). Life is good, Life is great, don’t wait to make these choices late in life start now.

By Allan Louis, First Nations Health Council Interior Region (Okanagan Indian Band)

My walk today was good medicine

Date:

Today, I set out for an 8 km walk. On the way, a rez dog was charging down the road. It headed straight for me. I did not recognize the mutt and could not tell if it was running from someone or something, or running towards me. So, I picked up a couple of large stones. At that point, the rez mutt went off the road, through the brush past me and on the road. I dropped the stone in my right hand and replaced it with another.

A moment later, Isadore Charters, stopped in his vehicle, rolled his window down, and gave me some encouragement for my weight loss, walking, and running. He told me that I reminded him about the importance of training. He thanked with some very kind remarks.

When I got to the creek, I let the rock go that I was going to use against the rez mutt. When I let go of that rock into the creek, I also let go of fear, doubts, uncertainty, and negativity. I prayed that I would not immediately prepare to fight, but, instead, let events unfold. Situations are not always as they initially appear.

I kept the stone that I had in my hand when Isadore shared his kind words with me. When I arrived at the Soowahlie cemetery, I put the stone down and gave thanks to my late parents for teaching me and preparing me for my life’s work.

As I neared the Vedder Bridge, a cyclist entered the rez. We gave each other the nod. Later, he was cycling up the Cultus Hills and I was jogging. We nodded, gave each other a thumbs up, high fived and carried on. We encouraged one another in our efforts to conquer the Cultus Hills.

Today, at the 3.5 km mark, I began to jog and walk. I did so for three kms and then finished with 1.5 km walk home. It took me 1 hour and twenty-five minutes. My walk today was good medicine for me.

Doug Kelly, Chair, First Nations Heal​th Council​​

Social Policy Forum Update

Date:

Dear Respected Chiefs and Leaders of the Province of BC,

The members of the Collaboration & Partnership Working Group of the First Nations Health Council are pleased to provide you this update with respect to the recent meeting of the Aboriginal Delegated Agency Directors, the Leadership Collaboration for a Social Policy Forum, as well as other work to-date.

Aboriginal Delegated Agency Directors Meeting

The CPWG and the Aboriginal Delegated Agency Directors met on January 27-28, 2015 at the Musqueam Cultural Centre, in Musqueam Territory to discuss the opportunity to work together to enhance support for children and families in First Nations communities across BC.

The session began with a traditional Coast Salish blanketing ceremony honouring the Aboriginal Delegated Agency Directors for their unwavering commitment and compassion for assisting First Nations children, families and communities while faced with the challenges of operating significantly underfunded agencies. Most of the Agency Directors had never been honoured for their work, and they expressed heartfelt appreciation for this acknowledgement.

The CPWG offered to advocate securing funding on behalf of the Agencies through a process similar to the process for health. The CPWG offered to work with the Agency Directors to develop their own structure for implementing a plan moving forward in collaboration with other partners.

This was the start of a discussion with the Agency Directors concerning opportunities to collaborate to improve the lives of First Nations children and families; while no decisions were made between the Agency Directors and the FNHC- CPWG, there was general agreement that First Nations must work together to pursue opportunities to assist our children and families.

Meeting with AANDC and Health Canada

On February 2, 2015, the CPWG Chair travelled to Ottawa to meet with the Deputy Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, as well as the Minister and Deputy Minister of Health Canada. We further discussed plans for the annual meeting between the federal Deputy Minister of AANDC and FNHC to discuss health and issues related to the social determinants of health, as agreed within the British Columbia Tripartite Agreement on First Nations Health Governance.

Leadership Collaboration for Social Policy Forum

On the morning of February 6, 2015, the Collaboration and Partnership Working Group (CPWG) of the First Nations Health Council met with members of the Leadership Collaboration for Social Policy Forum (SPF) to further the work on a long term strategy for overall wellness in our communities. The discussion focused on the work done to-date, and the future work of the Social Policy Forum in collaboration with the Provincial and Federal government partners.

Recognition that the health of our people is an outcome of all social determinants is growing among government and within our own sector councils. This is the basis for a forum that would allow for collaboration between our leaders, government, and First Nations councils.

Regional representatives voiced concern on behalf of their communities that the current situation for children and families is a priority across the province. The members present acknowledged that one of the main priorities for collaboration between the SPF and the Provincial government has to be improving the outcomes for First Nations children in this province. The SPF is in the process of developing a wellness plan for the next 10 years that will provide strategic direction for improving outcomes across all sectors in collaboration with the Provincial and Federal Government.

A discussion took place between the members of the Health Council and the SPF concerning their direction from the regional Chiefs and leaders. A portion of the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (2007) was shared, and it summarized the direction from the regions to move forward with the work of social determinants. The selected passage from the plan reads as follows:

 “Health and wellness for First Nations encompasses the physical, spiritual, mental, economic, emotional, environmental, social and cultural wellness of the individual, family and community. Although the present Plan focuses on health programs and services, it is recognized that the way forward will require a joint commitment to deal with the root causes and structural issues causing socio-economic gaps.”

In the afternoon, members of the SPF were joined by Provincial Deputy Ministers to discuss the partnership between the SPF and the ministries of BC. This discussion focused on the understanding across all sectors, communities, and governments that health is an outcome of many contributing factors, such as literacy, education, affordable housing, clean drinking water, traditional foods, traditional medicines, language, culture, and spirituality. All of these aspects of life allow First Nations people to be true to their ancestral teachings. To produce better health outcomes, the overall approach has to change. This group gathered in an attempt to work with all partners to change how the system currently works. A cross-ministry, cross-government approach to health, and other social determinants must be developed, to set very clear, high level strategic directions that will improve outcomes for First Nations people and communities.

The Provincial delegates reaffirmed their commitment to further the discussion around social determinants of health, and move forward on developing strategies to improve overall wellness. An agreement was reached to commit to quarterly meetings between the SPF and the Provincial Deputy Ministers to collaborate on this work.

Collaboration on the development of an outline regarding wellness for First Nations people and communities will be the priority in the following months. A comprehensive approach to planning the strategic work and the expected outcomes will be undertaken by the CPWG, the SPF sector councils, and the Provincial Ministries.

Sincerely,

On behalf of the First Nations Health Council

The FNHC Collaboration & Partnership Working Group

Download this Communique in PDF format here (207 KB)