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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.”

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)​

Allegations of Racism in BC’s Health-Care System


COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC) – The First Nations Health Council acknowledges that the recent allegations of racism in the provincial health system are disturbing and difficult to hear. They remind us of the need for culturally safe and equitable health care.  

These allegations reveal there is much work to do to ensure that there is systemic change. Intentions need to translate to action by every person in the BC Health care system.

The First Nations Health Council appreciates Minister of Health Adrian Dix’s prompt response and appointment of Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond to investigate this matter. We encourage her investigation to be transparent and involve those directly impacted by the alleged racism. It should include the communities and Nations within the five health regions of BC. Trust is needed for individuals to tell their stories and support meaningful change. Should these allegations be confirmed through the investigation, then we would expect the government to take immediate action against all those involved.

The success of the BC First Nations Health Governance structure is based upon our core set of values, our guiding Seven Directives given to us by BC First Nations, and our Shared Vision Statement and collective goal of “Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families and Communities.” 

The First Nations Health Council remains committed to eradicating racism within the health care system, as well as improving both services and First Nations health outcomes. These changes must also come from within the health system in the spirit of reciprocal accountability and in a manner that respects the provincial implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People; particularly, in terms of improving health outcomes. 

In 2015, all provincial health authority CEOs signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC. This declaration has now been endorsed by each of the professional health regulatory bodies in BC – a first in Canada – as well as other health partners.

The First Nations Health Council supports this important work, but recognizes that cultural safety is not enough – we need to go beyond the words to support transformational change in the health system, shift attitudes and meaningfully reconcile. We ask British Columbians to stand with BC First Nations on June 21, 2020 for National Indigenous Peoples Day, and commit to ending racism in this generation.

FNHA Launches Mobile App


A message from Richard Jock, Interim Chief Executive Officer (CEO), FNHA​

The FNHA strives to find the best ways possible to serve First Nations and Indigenous people in BC, and we are always exploring ways to better connect with those we serve. In response to feedback received from communities, we are excited to announce the launch of the new FNHA Mobile App.

The Mobile App creates the opportunity to receive direct information to support the health, wellness, and safety of BC First Nations. The current COVID-19 pandemic has emphasized the importance and value of immediate access to urgent and evolving information, and the Mobile App serves as a simple platform for important updates and resources.

As always, FNHA will continue to be your trusted source of information, now with the added convenience of a Mobile App. ​It will provide a direct link to our services and information, and will help to keep you up to date on FNHA’s COVID-19 resources, as well as other holistic health information, support and tools.

Providing meaningful, useful online support to BC First Nations has been a priority for the FNHA, especially during these times, and we thank you for all you have done to help protect our communities, Elders, and history.

Beyond the pandemic, the Mobile App will be a helpful companion on your wellness journey. It will provide benefits with a focus on health and wellness, including physical and mental health. Depending on the settings you choose, the Mobile App can send emergency notifications and alerts about urgent, health related events.

FNHA is here for you when you need us, putting helpful information directly into your hands. I invite you to download the FNHA Mobile App today from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. View the Frequently Asked Questions to find out more, or visit fnha.ca/app.​


Apple App Store

Google Play Store



User Guide​

Notice – Helping Rural, Remote and Indigenous Communities Respond to COVID-19


On April 20th, 2020, the provincial government announced a new collaborative framework to help ensure people living in rural, remote and all Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC) have appropriate health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. This framework includes immediate actions to improve health-care services and respond to the pandemic, including:

  • Enhanced medical transportation options to larger centres, including flights and ambulances;
  • Short-term accommodations options for people needing to self-isolate near their families while remaining in their home communities or options to develop accommodation near larger centres with more medical services;
  • New and faster COVID-19 testing technology, which uses a team-based approach;
  • First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day, a program that connects First Nations members and their families in remote communities to a doctor using videoconferencing; and
  • Increased mental health supports in communities.

We collectively recognize the needs of each community and region will be unique, and plans must be responsive to individual community needs, guided by culturally safe and appropriate care. These new resources and services will build on and complement ongoing work to support First Nations with their pandemic responses, led by the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) with support from Indigenous Services Canada and Emergency Management BC.

The FNHA, First Nations Health Council (FNHC), First Nation Health Directors Association (FNHDA), regional health authorities and BC Emergency Health Services will work with First Nations in the coming days to identify needs and develop plans together at both the regional and community level.

The next steps include:

  • Each region working with the Partnership Accord Table, and regional health authorities to develop a detailed response plan incorporating the elements of the Framework.
  • A direct circle of care of regulated health professionals who will provide direct support and service to individuals through the COVID-19 testing, isolation, transportation and acute care process.
  • A supportive circle for a First Nation community, e.g. regional executive directors, health directors, community nursing staff and transportation supports.
  • Expansion of the First Nation Virtual Doctor of the Day program launched by FNHA to include access to mental health supports.

The framework is flexible so that all BC First Nations communities can adapt it to meet their unique needs and preparations. Throughout the pandemic the framework will be implemented through engagement with community leaders. When the pandemic is over, it is understood that the need for improvements in providing health services and access to services broadly in communities will continue. A legacy of this framework will be ongoing, improved medical transportation.

For more information, please see the news release issued by the Province yesterday at:


Please do not hesitate to contact info@fnha.ca if you have any questions.

Download this notice in PDF format here​.

Maintaining Essential Services during COVID-19


As we face the challenges of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, our strength is grounded in our collective sense of wellbeing and our First Nations perspective on health and wellness. Given the legacy of colonialism, it’s natural that we react protectively in the best interest of our people. We’ve heard how communities are using ‘two-eyed seeing’ to follow critical public health advice while drawing upon our culture and traditions to sustain them during the COVID-19 pandemic.

​​Working alongside the health professionals in your communities, you’re playing a key role to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our people. To ensure we maintain essential services during this time – keeping health centres, band offices and essential businesses open – and support your pandemic response plans, we offer these recommendations to Chiefs and leaders. We understand you’re making decisions that fit community needs; and we recommend that communities consider health services as essential programs, re-assigning staff or rotating work duties to allow for physical distancing in offices. As needed, deploy people to: 

• ​Monitor and/or liaise with the FNHA and local Emergency Operation Centres;

• Answer phones, direct inquiries, provide community bulletins and information via social media;

• Maintain accessibility to services and supports for vulnerable community members with high health needs;

• Provide support and act as liaisons for youth and Elders; and

• Provide childcare support for parents working in essential service jobs.

The FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA recognize how leaders are working in the best interest of their communities to make sure everyone is healthy and safe during this time. We raise our hands to you for providing leadership, reassurance and trusted information. A few reminders:

​• It is more important than ever to observe the public health guidelines that support our collective health. For the safety of everyone, rules and orders by the Provincial Health Officer regarding gatherings still apply, including in the case of funerals and memorials. We support these orders and advise against any gathering to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect our communities.

• Review 1) the FNHA’s Community Guide for information on supports for community leaders (e.g, PPE ordering details, expense eligibility) and 2) Employers Guide to COVID-19.

The FNHA has provided correspondence confirming that Funding Arrangements have been extended and that funding releases will continue based on existing schedules to ensure services continue without interruption. Any questions can be directed to Tanya Duncan, Director, Funding Arrangements, at Tanya.Duncan@fnha.ca.

Your FNHC regional representatives and FNHDA Health Directors are also a source of information and support during this crisis – please call on them.

A Message from the First Nations Health Council


Following the March 21 joint FNHA-FNHC-FNHDA call to postpone or cancel all gatherings, the FNHC calls on community leadership, Hereditary Chiefs, Matriarchs and Spiritual Leaders to help reinforce the critical public health advice to postpone cultural gatherings and large ceremonies.

Please respect this critical advice – our spiritual teachings place our Elders and most vulnerable citizens at the forefront of our collective responsibilities to our communities and Nations. During this time of self-isolation and physical distancing (6-feet from each other), please use this time for prayer and self-reflection, stay safe and protect the health of you and your family.

As leaders within your communities, you play a key role in making sure everyone is healthy and safe.  The four most important things that you can do:

  • Encourage everyone to be kind, calm and stay healthy by following public health guidelines.
  • Support community leadership to ensure compliance with the handwashing and physical distancing recommendations and the March 21 call to cancel or postpone all gatherings.
  • Check FNHC.ca/coronavirus for the latest information and resources on COVID-19 for individuals, health professionals and communities.
  • Take responsibility for staying informed and sharing only trusted resources – misinformation can be harmful and cause greater risk to our communities and overburden staff. In this evolving situation, sometimes the answer isn’t known or available right now.

Other ways of supporting your health staff in dealing with COVID-19 include:

  • Review your existing Communicable Disease Emergency Plan (Pandemic Plan) and update it as needed.
  • Review the community’s supply of essentials.
  • Where there is one, check to see if the community health centre or nursing stations requires additional support to prepare for possible coronavirus patients.
  • Train and prepare staff to cover for each other as people may need time off to care for their families or for themselves.
  • Involve the whole community in efforts to prevent the spread of the virus by sharing tips on how to prevent its spread, as well as how to recognize the symptoms in each other.

If your community has concerns about access to care relating to COVID-19, contact your FNHA Regional Team or covid19@fnha.ca. Your First Nation Health Council regional representatives are also a source of information and support during this crisis – please call on them.

FNHA/FNHC/FNHDA Advise Against All Gatherings to Prevent COVID-19 Spreading


For Immediate Release
COAST SALISH TERRITORY – VANCOUVER, BC –The First Nations Health Authority, the First Nations Health Council and the First Nations Health Directors Association are strongly advising communities to cancel or postpone all community and cultural gatherings until the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.​

With the increasing evidence about the rapid spread of COVID-19 in British Columbia, and on the advice of public health physicians, the First Nations Health Authority also strongly recommends against any unnecessary travel. 

Furthermore, given the unprecedented risk COVID-19 presents, physical distancing is absolutely necessary to prevent serious illness and death in our communities. Please stay at least six feet apart from each other at all time. We are particularly concerned about the Elders and Knowledge Keepers, young children, and those with chronic disease. It is imperative that all of us take responsibility to care for each other by following this public health advice.

We do not make this recommendation lightly—we acknowledge the significance of cultural gatherings and events for First Nations communities, but from a public health standpoint we have the responsibility to communicate the severity of this rapidly evolving situation. Please cancel upcoming events, and reschedule for after this pandemic has passed.

Dr. Shannon McDonald, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer “COVID-19 is a severe respiratory disease that is very easy to transmit from person to person, and that can have deadly consequences. It is in our province and potentially in your community. It only takes one person to carry the disease to their family and community. Gatherings of any kind present an unreasonable risk.

We have a very brief opportunity to prevent the spread and the devastating consequences of this disease in our communities. Any gathering where close contact occurs can cause transmission and none of us are immune. I am especially worried about our Elders, young children and those with underlying health issues.”

Colleen Erickson, FNHA Board Chair “The responsibility lies with each and every one of us to do everything possible to protect ourselves so in turn we protect our families, our elders and community. Especially our Elders who are the keepers of our oral history, language and age old wisdom.”

Charlene Belleau, Chair, First Nations Health Council “The FNHC calls on Hereditary Chiefs, Matriarchs and Spiritual Leaders to help community leadership reinforce the critical public health advice to postpone cultural gatherings and large ceremonies. Please heed this critical advice – our spiritual teachings place our Elders and most vulnerable citizens at the forefront of our collective responsibilities to our Nations. During this time of self-isolation and social distancing (6-feet from each other), please use this time for prayer and self-reflection, stay safe and protect the health of you and your family.”

Keith Marshall, President, First Nations Health Directors Association “We thank and acknowledge those working on the front lines to support community health, including the 150+ Health Directors in BC and our nurses and health professionals. We especially appreciate the work of Health Directors, Chiefs and health boards to ensure community health centres remain open for essential services in this crisis; and we encourage all Health Directors to practice self-care during this extraordinary time.”​

Learn more:
Go to www.fnha.ca/coronavirus for up-to-date information on COVID-19 and resources for you community.
Media Contact: John Moody Telephone: 1-604-831-4898Email: john.moody@fnha.ca
For more on this topic please see this article: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/covid-suspend-sweat-lodges-pipe-ceremonies-1.5504541
To find out more about First Nations Health Authority, visit: http://www.fnha.ca/

Download this media release in PDF format here​