National Day for Truth and Reconciliation – Sept 30, 2021
The UBC Department of Family Practice welcomes the opportunity to reflect deeply on this important day and to consider what actions we are called upon to take during this period of increasing awareness of the harm done to the First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples from earliest contact and colonial times up to, and including, the present day.
These harms are detailed, and the paths to mutual healing are well-stated, in recommendations from the 2015Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), the In Plain Sight Report, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls as well as numerous other reports and studies. The UBC Department of Family Practice recognizes that we have responsibilities and an ongoing commitment for taking concrete steps grounded in the calls to action, the recommendations and the themes of these reports.
We, the UBC Department of Family Practice, including the Midwifery Program, see the family (broadly defined) as an important part of the health of individuals, communities and societies. In the context of reconciliation, it is important to acknowledge that Indigenous ways of seeing express an even broader concept of “family” to embrace non-human species and the natural world—and further that the Indigenous focus is more firmly on wellness and not just the absence of disease. These two ways of seeing and being are potentially synergistic and the evolving concept of “two eyed seeing” can open our collective eyes to see pathways towards health and wellness for all.
However, the future cannot be built without acknowledging the trauma and systemic racism that have dogged relationships in Canada from the time of its founding. Thus, to acknowledge the suffering being caused and to work together towards healing and healthier relationships with all Indigenous peoples; we will take Sept 30th, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, to listen, learn and remember the traumas and ongoing impacts of the residential school system, systemic racism, and intergenerational trauma.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is not a holiday to celebrate. In recent years, September 30th was known as Orange Shirt Day as a symbol of the residential school experiences suffered by Phyllis Webstad and a day to honour the children who suffered in that system. This is now a national day of commemoration in response to one of the calls to action from the 2015 TRC. It is a day to remember how children, families, communities and future generations of Indigenous peoples had their lives forever impacted by the horrors of residential schools and the cascade of trauma embedded in systemic racism. Their collective suffering and grief are our collective sorrow and shame.
We commit to spending Sept 30th to furthering our awareness of the history and the deplorable legacy of the residential school system. We commit to speaking out, speaking up, holding ourselves accountable and reaching out in support of our Indigenous colleagues and communities.
Furthermore, we commit to shaping our educational, research and service activities in our distributed programs and partnerships to provide enlightened education to our learners and members; engaged scholarship/research with our academic endeavors; and active, collaborative partnerships in service with communities, policy makers, managers, sister and allied professions/academies and the non-government sector.
While we call upon all stakeholders to participate in reconciliation and unravelling systemic racism, we also take responsibility and engage in actions within our Department to move our community forward on the path of healing. We have established a formal steering committee, Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) to promote justice, equity, diversity and inclusion within the UBC Department of Family Practice and to guide the Department in promoting a culture based on the foundation of anti-racism, de-colonization and intersectionality. We are committed to offering educational sessions to our members to promote these principles in all areas of our activities. We are committed to supporting grass-roots initiatives within our community in the form of task forces and action groups to unravel systemic racism.
We take this opportunity to restate in some detail our commitment to doing our part to participate in reconciliation and to shift the system such that future generations and relations enjoy ever- increasing healing, health and wellness.
This message is brought to you by the UBC Dept of Family Practice and the JEDI (Justice/Equity/Diversity/Inclusion) Steering Group
Actions to take on Sept 30th recognized as a paid holiday for all employees who are normally entitled to provincial and federal holidays.
Participate in ceremony – many events are taking place all over BC
Wear orange “every child matters” shirts – Orange Shirt Day is also being commemorated on Sept 30th
Make a personal commitment to reconciliation
Some of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action upon which we ground our current and future commitments:
- 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.
- 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.
Some of the In Plain Sight Recommendations upon which we ground our current and future commitments:
That the B.C. government, First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, and MNBC jointly develop a strategy to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic Indigenous-specific racism.
Provide that “professionalism” standards include delivering services free from all forms of prejudice or discrimination against Indigenous peoples and that breaches of these standards will invite accountability processes and potential sanction.
That all health policy-makers, health authorities, health regulatory bodies, health organizations, health facilities, patient care quality review boards and health education programs in B.C. adopt an accreditation standard for achieving Indigenous cultural safety through cultural humility and eliminating Indigenous-specific racism that has been developed in collaboration and cooperation with Indigenous peoples.
That the B.C. government, PHSA, the five regional health authorities, B.C. colleges and universities with health programs, health regulators, and all health service organizations, providers and facilities recruit Indigenous individuals to senior positions to oversee and promote needed system change
That the B.C. government require all university and college degree and diploma programs for health professionals in B.C. to implement mandatory strategies and targets to identify, recruit and encourage Indigenous enrolment and graduation, including increasing the safety of the learning environment for Indigenous students.
That a refreshed approach to anti-racism, cultural humility and traumainformed 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 of providing service to meet the minimum standards in the UN Declaration.
That the B.C. government, in partnership with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, MNBC, Indigenous physicians, experts, and the University of British Columbia or other institutions as appropriate, establish a Joint Degree in Medicine and Indigenous Medicine. That the B.C. government, in partnership with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, MNBC, Indigenous nurses, experts, and appropriate educational institutions, establish a similar joint degree program for nursing professions.
National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls- themes upon which we ground our current and future commitments:
Theme 4: The need for public education and greater public awareness of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Addressing the root causes for the disproportionate violence, the need for preventative action:
Theme 8: The need for properly resourced initiatives and programming to address root causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls.
- e) The need for accessible and culturally appropriate health, mental health, and addictions services for Indigenous women
- g) The need to heal Indigenous male perpetrators of violence and prevent the perpetuation of cycles of gender violence in Indigenous communities
Theme 9: The need for programming that addresses violence against Indigenous women and girls led by Indigenous people