September 30th is a solemn day to honour residential school survivors, those who died in this genocide, and the lasting impacts that the residential school system has had on Indigenous Peoples.
It is a day to learn more about the true history of our country and the atrocities committed in the residential school system.
It is a day to listen to, witness, and show support to Indigenous Peoples and their communities who carry the burden of the injustices, past and present, of colonization.
It is a day for each of us to be accountable and commit to the actions we can take, both as individuals and as a community, to increase our awareness and understanding of our history.
As we bear witness to the resilience of Indigenous Peoples and take steps towards reconciliation, we must shift the burden of change to settlers. We must shift the onus of reconciliation from those affected by colonialism and racism, to allies with power and privilege. In this spirit, we especially call on those in medical education to read, reflect on and implement changes based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and the In Plain Sight Report recommendations 20-23. These recommendations call on us to create truth-telling and educational opportunities for learners, faculty, and staff that ensure accurate and detailed knowledge about Indigenous-specific racism, colonialism, and trauma-informed practice as well as Indigenous health, wellness, and resilience.
In Plain Sight Report Recommendations
That a refreshed approach to anti-racism, cultural humility and trauma-informed training for health workers be developed and implemented, including standardized learning expectations for health workers at all levels, and mandatory, low-barrier components. This approach, co-developed with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, MNBC, health authorities and appropriate educational institutions, to absorb existing San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety training.
That all B.C. university and college degree and diploma programs for health practitioners include mandatory components to ensure all students receive accurate and detailed knowledge of Indigenous-specific racism, colonialism, trauma-informed practice, Indigenous health and wellness, and the requirement to provide service to meet the minimum standards in the UN Declaration.
That the B.C. government, in consultation and cooperation with Indigenous peoples, consider further truth-telling and public education opportunities that build understanding and support for action to address Indigenous-specific racism in the health care system; supplemented by a series of educational resources, including for use in classrooms of all ages and for the public, on the history of Indigenous health and wellness prior to the arrival of Europeans, and since that time.
2015 Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action Pertaining to Health
18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health-care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.
19. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes Calls to Action| 3 between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess long-term trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.
20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.
21. We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.
22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
23. We call upon all levels of government to: i. Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field. ii. Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities. iii. Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
24. We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
Here are some ways you can honour the above:
UBC events including Faculty of Medicine Commemorative Event on Sept 27, 2022 from 10am to 11:30am.
- UBC Faculty of Medicine 2022 Commemorative Event for Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
- Orange Shirt Day | National Day for Truth and Reconciliation
Commit to learning the truth about residential schools.
Commit to taking action to support healing and growth so that the burdens of the past and present colonial injustices in Canada do not fall upon the shoulders of Indigenous peoples.
Commit to honouring and celebrating the resilience and strength of residential school survivors, their families and communities by attending events that commemorate the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. Listen and learn from what survivors have to share.
- Indigenous Speakers Series – REDI Office – We Are Children of Indian Residential School Survivors – Wednesday Sept 21, 2022 12 noon to 3:30 pm
- Intergenerational March to Commemorate Orange Shirt Day Sept 30, 2022 – 11:45 am to 2:00 pm – Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre – UBC Campus
- Songhees Nation Powwow Sept 30th 10 am to 6 pm Royal Athletic Park, Victoria BC
- Victoria Orange Shirt Day: Every Child Matters Ceremony is September 30
Commit to checking out what events are happening in your community!
A 24-hour Indian Residential School Crisis Line to support former residential school students, and those affected, can be reached any time at 1-866-925-4419. For information on healing and wellness resources, read here.