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First Nations Health Council Statement


Presented at the opening of Gathering Wisdom X, Vancouver BC

  • Over the past several months, leadership change has occurred within the First Nations Health Council (FNHC), First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) as well as within operations of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). Change is inevitable in any organization. As leaders, we are responsible to plan for both change and transition.
  • Given the current legal proceedings now before the courts, there are limitations to what can be said; however, the start of a new decade offers the opportunity to reflect on the last 10 years, to celebrate the successes and to grow from the challenges. 
  • The 2011 and 2012 Consensus papers and resolutions by Chiefs in Assembly at previous Gathering Wisdom Forums provided an understanding that “significant change requires shifts in attitude, behavior and mindset.” This understanding provides the foundation for the many achievements we’ve collectively realized on our journey to transform the First Nation health governance structure in BC.
  • The FNHC is committed to following the wisdom and 7 Directives provided by BC First Nations leadership: to uphold good governance principles, to support health transformation, and to make progress on the social determinants of health.
  • As 15 of 15, the FNHC continues to heal. We commit to work together to address communication, governance, as well as healing relationships through teachings and culture.
  • The FNHC is launching the Reclaiming Our Connections guidebook engagement process over the next 18 months. Through the guidebook process, we will be seeking direction from BC First Nations leadership on our mandate, roles and responsibilities.
  • The structure and roles of the FNHC will also be reviewed through an evaluation process. This evaluation is intended to assess the progress that we have made against the work mandated by BC First Nations leadership, and what impacts have resulted. We are humbly calling upon the collective wisdom from the First Nation leaders across BC, through the formation of a Chief’s Working Group. This Chief’s Working Group – made up of an appointed Chief’s representative, one (1) from each of the five (5) Regions – will help inform the FNHC’s evaluation statement of work by April 2020.
  • The FNHC remains committed to our main goal of moving from health transfer to health transformation. We need to continue to remember why we are here – we’re here for our people and the health of our people. We look forward to our work together at Gathering Wisdom.

Reclaiming Our Connections–The Next Ten Years


Reclaiming Our ConnectionsThe Next Ten Years, is the theme for Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey X scheduled for January 14-16, 2020 at the Vancouver Convention Centre on traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. We hope you’ll join us at the 10th milestone of this event! For more information and to register, visit gathering-wisdom.ca

This theme is rooted in the language of the First Nation Health Council’s Reclaim campaign that expresses the FNHC’s advocacy role in support of our vision for Healthy, Self-Determining and Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families and Communities – and our belief that the time is now to reclaim our cultural wellness in rebuilding the health and wellness of our Nations.

Gathering Wisdom forums – held every 18 months – manifest the commitments within the Tripartite BC First Nations Health Plan that underpin the transformation of health and wellness for BC First Nations. The forums are sponsored by the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and bring together First Nations leaders, health and wellness leads, elders and community members to discuss health, mental health and the social determinants of health. This year, Gathering Wisdom will provide an opportunity for leaders and health and wellness leads to learn about promising practices from other communities across BC, discuss the role of health and healing in Nation rebuilding, and discuss new opportunities in the areas of mental health and the social determinants of health. In addition, results from a number of evaluations, including three mandatory evaluations required under the Tripartite Framework Agreement and The Canada Funding Agreement, will be shared.

The FNHC’s Reclaim campaign images and language will be part of Gathering Wisdom X and on our social media channels leading up to the 10th anniversary forum. Attendees will see portraits of First Nations people from across BC and read about what wellness means for them and for their communities.

Honoring our Commitment to End Violence Against Women and Girls


By Charlene Belleau, Chair, First Nations Health Council
As we join together this November 25 to mark the United Nations International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I reflect on how this work goes beyond a single day observance. I believe we are all called on to do this work together and accept responsibility for our children and families. Eliminating violence starts with us, with every individual. This in turn creates safer places for children, families and communities.

One way we do this work is through the Commitment Sticks program, a initiative launched at Gathering Wisdom in 2015 using a design created by Esk’etemc Elder Fred Johnson Sr. to signify the sacred responsibilities we have for the health and safety of our Indigenous women and girls. At that event more than 120 Chiefs and leaders held the sticks high and committed to live violence free, and to collectively work together to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls. They acknowledged that honouring our women—grandmothers, mothers, sisters, daughters, wives, partners and nieces—will bring balance back into our lives and ensure healthy and strong families and communities into the future. First Nations across BC have used the Commitment Sticks event toolkit to showcase their community commitment to tackle this issue and bring forward solutions.

Commitment Sticks symbolize an issue that we can—and must—address. They flow from the idea that we must be involved in our own healing; it’s not a matter of bringing in “experts” who can fix the community, but instead it’s us, our culture, our leaders—guided by tradition and ceremony—that can help us to live violence free and remind us of the value of the lives of Indigenous women and girls. The colours of the Commitment Stick represent the need for the four races to work together to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls, with an understanding that we are all equally valuable. With the red, we honour and mourn our murdered and missing Indigenous women; with the yellow, we honour our breath of life; with the black, we honour our body; and with the white, we honour the knowledge and wisdom of the Elders.

Many other programs and campaigns exist in the fight to end violence against women and girls. The Moose Hide campaign is a grassroots movement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous men and boys with a mission to end violence against women and children. A brotherhood for wellness is found in the Dude’s Clubs gatherings that focus on peer-based learning and holistic forms of healing including the medicine wheel. Dude’s Club is supported in part by FNHA and was featured at a recent Northern caucus presentation. The role that addictions and substance abuse play in violence against women and girls is tackled by many programs like those during National Addiction Awareness Week November 25-December 1 which includes events in most of our communities. Sobriety and healing helps us to heal from violence or stop violence.

So what can we do? We need to take notice of all the good things happening as part of this United Nation observance and National Addiction Awareness Week. We need to remember our commitment to not allow another generation of our women and children to fall victim to a cycle of abuse and violence. We need to understand the impact of physical violence, as well other forms of violence – emotional, mental or spiritual.

All of these programs and initiatives are part of raising awareness, reducing stigma, healing and changing minds and behavior. What we need is for all Leaders, frontline workers and community members to begin thinking this way and doing their part acknowledging this work every day. Violence against Indigenous women and girls is not just an issue now that it’s before the media and the public—it’s been an issue for several years. The government and the police may now have their programs, policies and procedures, but at the end of the day, violence against our women is also a community responsibility.

My push is for us to provide leadership and to do something ourselves, without worrying about what the government or police are doing about it. We might not be able to control what’s going on in a big city or anywhere else, but we can start with our own families and communities and Nations. For example, Esk’etemc frontline workers and leadership work together and all agree that the cycle of intergenerational trauma, including violence, has to stop with us. Regardless of whether we were abused at residential school, we must not pass it on to our children. Each man has signed a pledge to live violence free, stop violence against women and hold other men accountable. I encourage all delegates to being their commitment sticks to Gathering Wisdom X in January 2020!

First Nations Health Council Welcomes Publication of MMIWG Report as Important First Step


Coast Salish Territory – The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) welcomes today’s publication of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls report as an important step towards protecting our women going forward.

The women of the FNHC, as part of the regionally appointed Council providing leadership and advocacy in health transformation in British Columbia, submitted oral and written testimony to the inquiry. Many of our recommendations on the importance of cultural safety and quality health and wellness services have been included in the collective response to this crisis.

“We stand with our sisters and their families, holding up those who can no longer speak for themselves,” said FNHC Member Tania Dick. “At the FNHC we are working today to shape better health outcomes for generations to come.”

In the past, many communities and Nations here in BC were matrilineal and guided by the voices of women and it is in that spirit that our women leaders have come forward now.

The FNHC strongly supports the report’s recommendation on the need to implement a wide array of health and wellness supports for women, especially mental health supports, to break the cycle of intergenerational trauma and providing them the protection and care they deserve.

This truth gathering has given voice at last to almost 1,500 family members and survivors of this serial tragedy.

“I am relieved that something is finally being done, that people are finally acknowledging the truth,” said Ms. Dick. “Now we can begin to respond to this with meaningful action.”

Media Contact:

John Moody


Download this press release in PDF format here (549 KB)

Evolving Engagement Structure


Evolving how we engage: First Nations Health Council, First Nations Health Authority and First Nations Health Directors Association separate political and technical conversations.

The separation of business from politics is a hallmark of the BC First Nations Health Governance Structure. This principle is captured in our founding documents including the seven directives.

Through regional caucus evaluations and feedback from leadership The FNHC, FNHA and FNHDA have heard a clear message that we still have work to do to meet this principle.  We also heard that the best way to respect the time of both Chiefs and Health Directors is to continue to separate these conversations.

Since Transfer, the types of discussions and engagement we need to undertake in order to change the health system have grown in both scope and specificity. That’s why this spring we are introducing separate events for Chiefs and Health Directors and caregivers as follows.

Regional Health and Wellness Forums are new annual health service focused engagements and information sharing events. Two community delegates are invited to attend: one Health Director, and one additional attendee.

Regional Governance Caucuses are annual political and decision-making forums. One Chief or political lead is invited to attend.

Finally, every fall we will bring both conversations together in every region. The Fall Regional Health Assemblies will bring together the FNHA/FNHC/FNHDA to engage and share information on matters that are relevant to both political and technical leads, such as the Annual Report and Audited Statements.

2019/2020 is a learning year- there is an exception.

In an effort to ensure we are meeting the needs of Chiefs and Health Directors/Leads, the following outlines the evolved engagement activities for the coming year:

  • A two (2) day Governance Caucus for Political and Governance Leaders and Chiefs in Spring 2019 for 1 (one) political lead and 1 (one) Health Director/Lead (2019/2020 only)
  • A two (2) day Health and Wellness Forum for Community Caregivers and Health Directors, that will include FNHDA and FNHA in Spring 2019 for 1(one) Health Director/Lead and 1(one) additional attendee
  • A two (2) day Fall Regional Health Assembly for Leaders, Chiefs and Health Leads and Caregivers in Fall of 2019 for 1(one) political lead, 1(one) Health Director, and 1(one) technical lead

Next Steps

Please stay tuned for registration dates for the following upcoming events in your region.

Region Event Date Location
Interior Governance Caucus May 15-16, 2019 Registration Open!
Interior RHW Forum April 16-18, 2019 Registration Closed
Vancouver Island Governance Caucus June 4-6, 2019 TBD
Vancouver Island RHW Forum  TBD TBD
Fraser Governance Caucus June 10-11, 2019 TBD 
Fraser RHW Forum May 2-3, 2019  (Joint with VCC) Registration Open!
North  Governance Caucus June 25-26, 2019 Prince George
North  RHW Forum July 16-18, 2019 (TBC) Prince George
Vancouver Coastal Governance Caucus TBD (Looking to June) TBD
Vancouver Coastal RHW Forum May 2-3, 2019 (Joint with Fraser) Registration Open!

We encourage all Chiefs and Health Directors to remember to provide feedback through the evaluations on the evolving engagement structure at our upcoming meetings.

The FNHA, FNHDA and FNHC will report back on the feedback received on the evolving engagement structure based on evaluation data.

If you have any specific questions about the upcoming Regional Governance Caucuses, Regional Health and Wellness Forums, or Fall Regional Health Assembly please review the attached FAQs or get in touch with your regional teams.

Read the FAQs here (PDF 152 KB)

Orientation Video – Living Well: Transforming First Nations Health in BC


This video outlines a brief history of the Tripartite First Nations Health Governance Structure in British Columbia, the agreements and documents that led to its creation, and the innovative work to transform health outcomes through service improvements in partnership with First Nations communities and leadership in the province.

First Nations Health Council Chair Report – Fall 2018


Since June 2010, it has been my honour to serve as Chair of the First Nations Health Council (FNHC). I am pleased to announce I was just re-elected for another term. BC Chiefs challenged the FNHC to negotiate a tripartite agreement that resulted in improved services, secured long-term funding, and improved health outcomes.

We met that challenge and in 2011 – BC Chiefs renewed our mandate and tasked us to provide leadership, oversee transformation of the health system, make progress on the social determinants of health, and to be advocates. In 2012, BC Chiefs gave us direction upon the structure of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). We worked with the FNHA CEO as members and appointed the FNHA board of directors and supported the building of the FNHA.

Six years ago, we began to transition away from Health Canada to the FNHA.  As we wrap up the work on Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) transfer, we will complete transition.  Our focus is now on transformation of the health system, making progress on the social determinants of health, and advocacy.

Our communities and our Nations now have the opportunity to redevelop their Nationhood and achieve a Nation-to-Nation relationship with Canada. BC Chiefs gave us clear direction with setting standards such as the 7-Directives. Directive #1 – Community-driven and Nation-based underpins our work. In transforming mental health, we are calling upon Chiefs, Leaders, and Caregivers to work together in ways that they may not have for a long time. Change is not easy, even when that change is good for us.  The FNHC will need to develop strategies and approaches to support this work.


Roadmap to Nation-to-Nation

At the Federal Deputy Ministers & FNHC table held June 29, 2018 in Ottawa, we discussed the challenges and the opportunities of achieving a Nation-to-Nation relationship. We had a lively, candid, and respectful dialogue. There was general agreement to the notion that we should develop jointly a Roadmap to Nation-to-Nation.

This roadmap would identify the challenges/barriers and the opportunities. The FNHC Partnership Working Group (PWG) is going to Ottawa in mid-October to meet senior officials. We will meet with Chiefs of Staff and officials from PMO, Treasury Board, and Finance.  We will begin to develop a roadmap.


FNHA – FNHC – FNHDA Joint Planning August 14-15-16

The August FNHA – FNHC – FNHDA joint planning session was productive and positive. Our discussions on the Mental Health Transformation work created an opportunity to air out fears and concerns. After airing out fears and questions – we began to see the possibilities. This process works well. On the 3rd day, we carried out ceremony to lift our spirits and take care of our family.


Tripartite MOU on Mental Health Transformation

Our Secretariat team and the FNHA teams have been working closely together to complete the implementation plan for the Tripartite Partnership to Improve Mental Health and Wellness Services and Achieve Progress on the Determinants of Health and Wellness MOU signed on July 26th. It is nearly finalized and ready to be shared publically.

This MOU on Mental Health Transformation calls for Nations to work together with all of their communities. Some Health Directors have expressed concerns that their Chiefs do not meet regularly and have not worked together for some time. Others expressed concern that their Chiefs are in conflict over various issues. We will need to find ways to encourage and support leaders coming together for this work.



FNHA Non-medical Cannabis Information for First Nations: www.fnha.ca/cannabis

In late June, the Government of Canada passed legislation to legalize cannabis. The Province of BC is working on legislation. At the last FNHC quarterly meeting, we heard presentations from Canada, the Province of BC and the FNHA on cannabis. We will begin a dialogue on this issue. We will also look at how we can begin to inform our Chiefs and Leaders during our upcoming regional engagements.

The FNHC recognizes the autonomy and self-determination inherent to First Nation communities and, specifically, the rights of communities to choose how to address cannabis in their territories. FNHC favours approaches that minimize the negative health impacts for individuals who voluntarily choose to use cannabis, and which minimize the promotion of cannabis use to children and youth. We approach this work with a spirit of shared responsibility – family members, community leaders, and health system partners all have a role to play.

The FNHA will be engaging with First Nations in BC through the fall regional caucus sessions. The FNHA has posted their health information on cannabis online at: www.fnha.ca/cannabis. For First Nations interested in providing feedback about cannabis and health, there is an online survey that can be taken on the FNHA website.


Implementation Committee

Health Canada (now Indigenous Services Canada), the BC Ministry of Health, FNHA and the FNHC established a governance committee to oversee the implementation of our 2011 BC Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nations Health Governance. We are approaching the conclusion of this committee and are now considering the next iteration and work of this tripartite governance committee.

Our key and founding documents go back to 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2012.  On September 19, 2018, the Implementation Committee decided to work together to refresh our tripartite health plans and partnership accords. We want to build upon the progress made by each of the partners by setting out priorities for transformation, improving services, and strengthening and growing our partnerships with regional health authorities, Ministries and Departments.

As we begin to work together on renewing these key documents, we will be working with the FNHC and the FNHA to ensure that we leave no one behind.


Secwepemc Nation Stsmemelt MOU

Kukpi7 Wayne Christian invited me to attend the signing of this MOU in July during the AFN AGM held in Vancouver. I attended and witnessed the signing of an MOU on children and family services jurisdiction.  The Secwepemc Nation wants to build from the Splatsin model of jurisdiction. The Governments of Canada and BC have agreed to work with the Secwepemc Nation.

The First Nations Leadership Council with its partners on the Tripartite Working Group on Children and Family Services held a two-day meeting on September 26-27 in Richmond. The FNLC set the agenda that minimized presentations and maximized small group discussions. It was a productive format and there was a great dialogue. Kukpi7 Christian presented the Secwepemc Nation Stsmemelt MOU at this meeting. This presentation generated much excitement. The Wet’suwet’en Nation is working in partnership with the Secwepemc Nation on jurisdiction for children and families.


Matriarchs, Grandmothers and Aunties

During the First Nations Leadership Council meeting on children and families, I spoke with Chief Harvey McLeod. He shared with me a document – The Upper Nicola “Grandmothers Declaration.” It is a simple and yet powerful declaration.

Some time ago, our sister Gwen Philips talked about the role of Grandmothers. She raised the idea of the FNHC finding a way to support the Grandmothers to reclaim their role. We need to give some consideration to this idea and how we may take action to realize our Vision Statement – “Healthy, Self-Determining, Vibrant BC First Nations Children, Families, and Communities.”


Regional Partnership Accords

The Fraser Salish Partnership Accord and the other regional partnership documents are being evaluated as part of our 5-year evaluation. This review is an ideal time for the FNHC as one of one, three of three (regional), and fifteen of fifteen (provincial) members, to make certain that we are approaching our work in similar ways. Let us find the time to explore best practices from each of our regions and as we renew our regional partnership accords that each region is making progress on our shared priorities.



There is so much work to do. There are many organizations doing work. We need to find ways to coordinate our efforts. If we do not work together, we may prevent progress or create unnecessary conflict. We need to find time to develop a strategy on partnerships. We will need to develop a strategy and then bring it to our respective partnership tables with the Deputy Ministers.



Eight years passed quickly – while we have made significant progress there is much work to do. We should enjoy and celebrate the 5th birthday of the First Nations Health Authority. We should not party too long for there is much more work to do.

At times, it seems like the more we do, the more that we are expected to do. That is both the gift and the curse of leadership. By working together, we can and we will change the world in which we live.  By staying true to our mandate, staying in our lane – we will make progress to achieving our Vision Statement.  We will transform health and we will make progress on the Social Determinants of Health.

The FNHC looks forward to seeing you at our fall 2018 regional caucus sessions.


Grand Chief Doug Kelly
Chair, First Nations Health Council



SAVE-THE-DATE! FNHC Fall Regional Caucus Sessions


Dates and locations of the First Nations Health Council Fall Regional Caucus Sessions have been set. Additional information including registration links, agenda items and background information will be shared over the coming weeks.

For now please save-the-date and we look forward to seeing you there!

Vancouver Island:
Dates: Nov 6, 7, 8
Location: Nanaimo Coast Bastion

Vancouver Coastal:
Dates: Nov 20, 21, 22
Location: Vancouver Coast Coal Harbour Hotel

Dates: Nov 14, 15, 16
Location: Kelowna Coast Capri Hotel

Dates: Nov 27, 28, 29
Location: Coast Inn of the North

Fraser Salish:
UPDATED  Dates: Dec 10, 11, 12
Location: Harrison Hot Springs


In Case You Missed It: What Took Place at the Spring Regional Caucus Sessions

The FNHA communications team attended each 2018 Spring Regional Caucus session and summarized the work in online blogs. Some leaders expressed interest in what is taking place at the reginoal level in other areas of the province. Take a read of each blog to find out and look out for the upcoming blogs this fall.


Fraser Salish Nations Gather to Discuss Health Transformation and Nation-Rebuilding

Fraser Salish Elders, Youth, Chiefs, Health and Technical staff gathered for the Fraser Salish Caucus on Sema:th territory in Abbotsford March 27-29 for discussions on health service improvements, mental health and wellness, Nation rebuilding and health governance.

18 political leads, 17 health leads, and seven technical leads were on hand for three days of moving forward on health systems transformation for Fraser Salish communities. Day one opened with a cultural procession and welcome to the territory from Jackie Bird from Sema:th First Nation.


Interior Region Chiefs and Health Leads Engage in Constructive Dialogue on Community Mental Health & Wellness and Nation-based Governance

The Interior Caucus session began on March 13-15, 2018​ with ceremony, brushing off, and a prayer from Syilx Nation’s Mary Louie and Wilfred Barnes; Chief Roxanne Lindley of Westbank First Nation provided the territory welcome. 42 Political Leads and 53 Health Leads participated in the three-day event.

Caucus Chair Allan Louis, ​Syilx Nation opened the caucus with an update on Interior Region priorities.


Vancouver Island Families Discuss Governance, Relationships and Health Transformation in Snuneymuxw Territory

From April 18-20, 2018, political and health representatives from the three Island families—Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish—gathered in Snuneymuxw territory for Vancouver Island Spring Regional Caucus. The three days of community engagement were attended by 112 delegates, including 32 political leads, 27 health leads and nine social leads.

Snuneymuxw Elder Eleanor White opened day one in a good way with prayer and a welcome to the territory and Bill Cranmer (‘Namgis), Corner Post for the Vancouver Island Region, shared words in Kwa’kwala and a song to the Creator “to give us wisdom in our work.”


Three Days of Dialogue and Decision-making: Leaders Gather for the Northern Regional Caucus in Lheidli T’enneh Territory

More than 175 participants attended the three-day Northern Regional Caucus from April 9-10 on Lheidli T’enneh Territory in Prince George. Forty-three of 54 Northern communities were represented by Chiefs, Hereditary Chiefs, Chief Councilors and proxies.

Darlene McIntosh of the Lheidli T’enneh welcomed everyone to the territory and provided the opening prayer, and the Khast’an drummers provided three traditional songs from the territory


Vancouver Coastal Region Come Together for a Productive 2018 Spring Caucus

From April 24-26, political and health leads, Elders, youth and regional staff gathered in Vancouver for the Vancouver Coastal Regional Caucus. Five Chiefs, 18 technical health leads, and eight proxies attended the forum for discussions on health service updates and transformation, ongoing partnerships, and governance.

Coordination lead for the Coastal Wolfpack and member of the Musqueam Nation Alec Dan provided a welcome to the territory and song to acknowledge the honoured guests and the important work they had to do.

Tripartite Ceremony Reaffirms Commitment to Improve Mental Health and Wellness Services with First Nations in British Columbia


In May of 2018 at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX, the First Nations Health Council (FNHC), Government of Canada and Province of British Columbia announced a commitment to improve mental health and wellness services that support First Nations children, families and communities in BC. Building on this announcement, Canada, BC and the FNHC signed a tripartite agreement on July 26, 2018 that confirms the commitment of all partners to take action on mental health and wellness.

Since 2015, the FNHC has talked to BC First Nations about the social determinants of health. Through these discussions, issues related to mental health and wellness emerged as the top priority across all regions. This reinforces the direction provided by First Nations through Regional Health and Wellness Plans that identify mental health and wellness and substance use as the most important priority for us to make progress on.

For many, issues related to mental health and wellness, substance use challenges, and untreated trauma can be the roots and risk factors that contribute to other concerns like the opioid/overdose public health emergency, overrepresentation of First Nations in child welfare and criminal justice systems, family violence, and other determinants of health.

The FNHC has heard from many communities that immediate and flexible investments in mental health and wellness will result in better outcomes by supporting community-led solutions that address these root causes. The FNHC has heard that First Nations need to be able to design and implement their own services that address the unique needs of their children, families and communities. When we make progress on mental health and wellness, we will make progress on the social determinants of health.

New Funds for Mental Wellness Services and Treatment Centres

The purpose of this MOU is to support a Community-Driven, Nation-Based approach to the design, planning and delivery of mental health and wellness services. This MOU sets out commitments that the partners will work towards over the next two years. The MOU comes with a commitment of $30 million – $10 million each from the FNHA, Canada and BC – over two years to fund health and wellness planning and a series of “demonstration” or “test” site projects that can support enhanced service delivery models determined by communities.

These investments will be administered through the First Nations Health Authority as the health service delivery partner of the First Nations health governance structure in BC. This division of responsibility ensures the separation of services and politics in the administration of this funding. The actual investment approach will be determined through the creation of a public implementation plan in Fall of 2018. It is expected that the first phase of this funding will be available to BC First Nations in the fall of this year.

In addition to the $30 million commitment, this MOU confirms the commitment of the partners to build, renovate, replace and expand a number of First Nations treatment centers in BC. We have heard how challenging it can be to access timely, culturally safe treatment services. This is a significant investment by all partners and an important part of improving the accessibility of substance use services across BC. This commitment is a separate funding commitment from the $30 million to be determined by the partners through a plan also to be created by the Fall of 2018.

Flexible Funding

Through engagement on the social determinants of health, the FNHC has heard that funding provided by Canada and BC for community services is inequitable, unpredictable and not based on actual need of communities. These programs are often developed in silos and do not provide the flexibility to work wholistically. We have heard that proposal-based processes creates competition and reporting requirements are burdensome and based on external priorities. Finally, we know that funding is needed to address capacity challenges, including resources for training, infrastructure, recruitment and retention, pay equity, and governance development.

Recommendations from First Nations have informed this new funding approach. Through this agreement, flexible funding is available directly to Nations and communities to plan, design, and implement mental health and wellness plans, without burdensome application and reporting requirements. We are testing a new funding approach, where federal and provincial funds are pooled, providing Nations with the flexibility to align resources with their health and wellness plans and priorities. This means less money is spent on the administration of funds and more money is available to communities to do the work they know is needed.

Based on recommendations from the Regional Caucuses, there will be no ‘call for proposals’ as part of this new funding approach. A key part of this process is to explore approaches that it make it easier for communities to access funding for mental health and wellness services.

Long-Term Investments in Mental Health and Wellness

As part of this agreement, the parties are committed to work together and with BC First Nations to secure long term funding to transform mental health and wellness in BC. The timeframe for the current MOU is set for two years, in order to test the new funding approach. Over the next two years, the FNHC will be engaging First Nations to gather feedback in order to inform future mental and wellness funding agreements.

There is an understanding between BC, Canada and the FNHA that the $30 million is an initial investment. The FNHC is aware that communities need more resources to improve health outcomes. Over the next two years, we have the opportunity to plan as communities and as Nations. Together, we will learn what resources are required in the long-term to ensure we create a sustainable, comprehensive system of mental health and wellness care for our people.

Next Steps

As set out in the MOU, the next step in the process is to develop an implementation plan by October 2018 that sets out an approach for allocating the funding over the two-year period. In order to ensure this new funding approach works for First Nations, we look forward to immediate engagement at Regional Caucuses in the fall.

Over the next two years, we will be actively engaging First Nations to determine what does and does not works and what needs to change, in order to inform long term investments that meet the needs of our communities. In the below links you will find a copy of the MOU, some Frequently Asked Questions and a link to this letter as a PDF.

We look forward to discussing this work further directly with Chiefs, Leaders and Caregivers in the months ahead and hope you have a safe and healthy summer.


The First Nations Health Council


Visual: Mental Health and Wellness Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Canada, Province of BC and First Nations Health Council – Breakdown of New Funding Commitments

Download the Memorandum of Understanding here

Download Frequently Asked Questions here

Download this letter in PDF format here

Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX Recap


The FNHC would like to thank all of those who attended Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX on May 15-17, 2018. This year, over 700 Chiefs, Leaders, Health Directors, Youth Leaders, Elders, and federal and provincial partners attended the 3-day forum to engage in discussions surrounding the health and wellness of BC First Nations. The forum this year provided an opportunity for Nations to share their own stories and journeys of health and wellness. We are thankful to all of those that took part in this important discussion.

A New Approach for Tripartite Investment in Mental Health and Wellness

Building on the progress of the tripartite health initiative, the Government of Canada, the Province of BC and the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) have agreed to take significant steps to improve mental health and wellness outcomes for First Nation children, families and communities in BC. As announced at the Gathering Wisdom forum, the federal and provincial governments and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) will each make an initial investment of $10 million over two years for a total funding commitment of $30 million. In addition, Canada, BC, the FNHC and the FNHA have agreed to work together to develop a tripartite plan to address the need for the renovation, replacement, expansion and construction of Indigenous treatment centers in BC.

Since 2015, the FNHC has been engaging First Nations on the social determinants of health – the conditions in which people are born, grow, work, live and age, and the wider set of forces shaping the conditions of daily life. Through these engagements, mental health and wellness emerged as the top priority across all regions. This is consistent with the priorities set out in the Regional Health and Wellness Plans and further reinforces recommendations made by First Nations through extensive engagement done to date on mental health and wellness, including A Path Forward: First Nations Mental Wellness and Substance Use 10-Year Plan.

In the spring of this year, the FNHC started a discussion with First Nations on a new partnership model for mental health and wellness. This initial investment by Canada, BC and the FNHA will support a new approach for funding mental health and wellness services. This funding approach aims to simplify the process for First Nations to access funding by pooling federal and provincial resources for mental health and wellness and establishing new and more flexible funding arrangements that focus on outcomes. As we have heard from First Nations across BC, it is important to knock down silos, remove unnecessary rules, significantly simplify the process to receive and report on funding, and support Nation-based approaches to health and wellness. In taking a new approach with this initial investment, funding will focus on achieving outcomes – not the terms and conditions of a funding agreement.

The initial investment of $30 million over the next two years will focus on the following:

Planning – provide funding for First Nation communities and Nations to develop, renew, or redesign their health and wellness plans in a manner that aligns with their vision of wellness and enhances protective factors associated with positive mental health and wellness outcomes.

Service Delivery – provide funding for Community-Driven and Nation-Based demonstration sites that support enhanced service delivery models for mental health and wellness.

In the weeks ahead, the partners will develop an implementation plan that sets out these processes in more detail, including an approach for First Nations to access funding through this new opportunity. It is important to note that this is an initial investment to support a new and more flexible approach for funding mental health and wellness services. The FNHC is committed to continue its engagement with First Nations on this approach and to secure a funding commitment from Canada and BC to sustain this over the long-term.

Click here to see the full Media Release

Nations Sharing Promising Practices

The purpose of the Gathering Wisdom forum this year was to seek direction on mental health and community-led approaches for addressing the social determinants of health.  Based on feedback from past forums, the forum provided an opportunity for Chiefs, Leaders and Caregivers to share promising practices and strategies for improving health and wellness outcomes in their communities. This included:

  • Satsan (Wet’suwet’en), Steven Point (Coast Salish) and Sophie Pierre (Ktunaxa) shared their perspectives on the role of health, healing and relationships in larger discussions on Nation rebuilding.
  • Chief Dean Nelson (Lil’wat Nation), Chief Nathan Matthew (Simpcw First Nation) and Chief Jackie Thomas (Saik’uz First Nation) shared their perspectives on the role of leaders in creating a vision for change in the community.
  • Panel Presentation on wholistic approaches to health and wellness planning that featured the Stikine Wholistic Working Group, the Wet’suwet’en Anuk Nu’ At’en Ba’glgh’iyi z’ilhdic Program, the Syilx Nation, and the Sts’ailes Snowoyelh Program.
  • Terry Cross (Founder of the National Indian Child Welfare Association) and Shirley Williams (Lummi Nation) spoke to the importance of culture and community-based approaches in creating a healthy future for our children.

We would like to thank all of our guest presenters for sharing their perspectives. You can now see all of these presentations online.

Youth Leaders Program

New to the Gathering Wisdom forum this year, the FNHC sponsored 15 Youth Leaders from across BC to attend the forum this year. The Youth Leaders were asked to be part of the forum by listening and learning from the leadership in the room and to share their reflections on the discussion at the end of the forum. We were inspired by the courageous and thoughtful words shared by the Youth Leaders at the end of the forum. As Autumn Walkem from the Nlaka’pamux Nation aptly put it, “I am ready for change. Are you?”

The FNHC would like to personally thank each and every Youth Leader who attended the Gathering Wisdom forum and the Living Markers that supported them throughout. Thank you to:

  • Marcie Pruden, Fraser Salish Region
  • Stanley Daniels, Canim Lake Band, Interior Region
  • Autumn Walkem, Nlaka’pamux Nation, Interior Region
  • Kali Gabriel-Baptiste, Osoyoos Indian Band, Interior Region
  • Daphne McRae, Upper Nicola Band, Interior Region
  • Hannah Olinek, Nak’azdli Band, Northern Region
  • Mikayla Mayner, Wet’suwet’en First Nation, Northern Region
  • Jordan Leask, Metlakatla First Nation, Northern Region
  • Taylor Behn-Tsakoza, Fort Nelson First Nation, Northern Region
  • Christopher Haller, Nuxalk Nation, Vancouver Coastal Region
  • Crystal Lewis, Squamish Nation, Vancouver Coastal Region
  • Leonard Nookemis, Huu-ay-aht First Nation, Vancouver Island Region

Honouring Ceremony

The Gathering Wisdom forum this year started with a tribute to Qut’same’t (Elder Leonard George). Leonard George has touched so many lives. The FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA came together to honour the work and legacy of Leonard George in ceremony. We want to acknowledge the George family for allowing us to do this work.

As part of this work at the beginning of the forum, we also took time to acknowledge those that have lost loved ones in the opioid crisis. We heard from Charlene Belleau about the current state of emergency relating to accidental drug overdoses and the importance of strong leadership to stop this crisis. Bev Lambert shared her personal story of how she lost her son to addiction, and encouraged us to share our own personal stories and support each other through our journeys of healing. Grand Chief Doug Kelly led a Call to Action, and invited attendees to join him in promising to live violence free and open our hearts and release the unconditional love within.

As part of this Call to Action, the FNHC invited Chiefs, Leaders and Caregivers to write names and memories of loved ones lost to this crisis on quilting squares. The memorial quilt was unveiled on the final day of the forum as a way to pay respect to those who have been lost and to support each other in our healing journeys. We want to thank all of those that took part in this ceremony. As a next step, the FNHC has committed to bring the memorial quilt to the Regional Caucuses in the fall and to continue the conversation that was started at the Gathering Wisdom forum.

Chief Nathan Matthew speaking during the Role of Leaders in Community Health and Wellness panel

Wholistic Approaches to Health and Wellness Planning panel

Terry Cross of the National Indian Child Welfare Association presenting on “Remembering a Healthy Future”

Memorial quilt for those who have lost loved ones in the opioid crisis

Vancouver Island cultural sharing

Treaty 8 dancers

Video – Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX: Celebrating Five Years Since Transfer

This video introduces leaders to the key themes of Gathering Wisdom, including a reflection on progress since health transfer, healing and resilience, reclaiming our wellbeing, and health as the foundation of nation-rebuilding. It ends with a call to action for leaders to take up this work in their own communities.

Watch the video here!

Upcoming Gathering Wisdom forum materials

In the coming weeks, the FNHC will be producing a full proceedings report on what was heard and learned at the Gathering. This report will include a more detailed summary of each discussion and presentation and the next steps to be taken by the FNHC. Additionally, the entire Gathering Wisdom video will be uploaded for those to watch who could not attend the Gathering.

Our Engagement Story on the Social Determinants of Health and Wellness, 2015-2018

Since 2015, the FNHC has engaged First Nations across BC on the social determinants of health. This summary report has been prepared by the FNHC based on what was shared at the Regional Caucuses, and outlines common concerns, challenges and opportunities across regions.

Click to see the report!