October 2016 - Margo Greenwood, Vice President of Aboriginal Health, is a co-investigator on a project based at the University of Victoria. The project is developing an electronic reporting system called GlobalChild. It will help to measure how well each country is complying with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Canada played a key role in developing and promoting the 1989 Convention, which requires governments to protect the health, social, economic and cultural rights of children. The Convention contains 54 items such as standard of living, education, parental responsibilities, and protection from violence. Globally, 196 countries have signed, but compliance has long been an issue. Despite the requirement for countries to submit reports every five years, many do not. As well, reports are sometimes limited in scope and lack detail.
GlobalChild will include measurements for each right that children have. Each measurement will contain various questions that countries will answer. For example, questions about the right to play might include:
Margo is supporting the focus on Indigenous children. She is working with the research team to develop a framework for measuring Indigenous child health. Indigenous children in Canada remain “significantly under-served” by health care services. They are also at greater risk than other Canadian children for health problems.
The project is funded in part by a $1.1 million award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The team aims to launch the project in Canada in 2021, with the goal of it becoming a global reporting tool in the future.
For more information, read recent media coverage in the Prince George Citizen and the Globe and Mail and a news article from UVic.
October 2016 - Margo Greenwood, Vice President of Aboriginal Health, was recently appointed to the Health Innovation Advisory Board for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR).
Created in 2000, CIHR is an independent agency that funds health research in Canada. Its mission is to support new scientific knowledge and enable translation of that knowledge into:
The five new Advisory Boards will provide independent, expert advice to CIHR’s 13 Institutes. Advisory Board members represent the highest standard of excellence across CIHR’s four research areas:
The Advisory Board on Health Innovation provides advice on accelerating the discovery, development, evaluation and integration of health innovations into practice so that patients can receive the right interventions at the right time.
October 2016 - This summer, the First Nations Health Authority initiated a social media campaign to engage people throughout the Health Authorities in a commitment to advance cultural humility and safety.
The Aboriginal Health and NH Communications teams have begun a wall of pledges and we encourage you to make a pledge wall at your workplace too! It’s easy to download and print off pledge forms. This booklet provides additional information about the initiative. Post your pledges and a picture of your growing pledge wall on social media with the hashtags #culturalhumility #itstartswithme.
Image is of a wall of cultural safety and humility pledges on the 8th floor of the HSBC Building in Prince George. What will you pledge wall look like?
October 2016 - In the spring of 2016, the Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee launched an exciting new awards initiative to support Indigenous students in northern BC pursuing a health-related discipline. In its first year, 12 awards amounting to $8,500 have been allocated to Indigenous students!
These awards intend to encourage Indigenous students to consider a health-related career and support their ongoing education.
Stay tuned for an announcement about 2017 awards.
October 2016 - Northern Health (NH) is a vibrant part of communities across the north. When people come to seek health services, we want them to see their community reflected in the workforce. A workforce that reflects the local community supports a culturally safe health system for everyone. This in turn supports increased access to health care and improved health outcomes.
The health and wellness of First Nations and Aboriginal people and communities in northern BC is a priority for NH. We work together with northern First Nations and the First Nations Health Authority on a Partnership Committee. The Committee developed a Plan to support the improved health and wellness of First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in northern BC. The Plan includes goals to:
So this October, Northern Health invited all employees to self-identify as Aboriginal or non-Aboriginal. This initiative will help us measure how well the NH workforce reflects the communities of northern BC and any changes over time.
Self-identifying is voluntary and all uses of the data will comply with the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
June 2016 - In July 2015, all Health Authority CEOs in BC signed a Declaration of Commitment to advancing cultural humility and cultural safety within their organizations. This commitment gives all health professionals a mandate to advance cultural humility and safety in their practices with Indigenous peoples in BC.
Cultural safety and humility are identified as care approaches to reduce health inequities and improve health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in BC. Cultural safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care. Cultural humility is a process of self-reflection to understand personal and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.
The FNHA has developed a cultural humility web portal that contains educational materials, definitions, presentations, the declaration itself, social media posts and much more.
Aboriginal Health partnered with the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health on a webinar on cultural safety as a social determinant of Indigenous peoples’ health with Dr. Sarah de Leeuw. The recording is now available.
We encourage you to make a pledge to cultural safety and humility! Join the FNHA social media campaign.
Now is a great time to enroll in the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Online Training Program - a unique, facilitated online training designed to increase knowledge, enhance self-awareness, and strengthen the skills of those who work directly and indirectly with Aboriginal people. This training is available free to all Northern Health staff! If you have taken one of the core trainings, consider enrolling in one of the post-training courses available.
June 2016 - National Aboriginal Day is a time to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada.
Aboriginal Patient Liaisons across northern BC organized and participated in local activities and events. In Prince George, Patricia Prince hosted an event at the University Hospital of Northern BC (UHNBC) that included a welcoming prayer by a Leidlhi T’enneh Elder, drumming, a screening of the video Honouring Our Journey, bannock, soap berry ice cream, and information tables. Aboriginal Health was there to celebrate and to share resources and some fun stuff like frisbees and beach balls!
Image of the Aboriginal Health table at the UHNBC National Aboriginal Day event with the Aboriginal Patient Liaison's table in the foreground displaying sage bundles and preserves.
July 2016 - In response to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on First Nations children, the Government of Canada announced a new approach to implementing Jordan’s Principle. This approach puts the needs of children first and ensures that First Nations children living on-reserve receive the health and social services they need in a timely manner.
A commitment of up to $382 million in new funding was made on July 5, 2016, to enhance service coordination and ensure service access resolution so that children’s needs are assessed and responded to quickly. Health Canada and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada are engaging with First Nations and jurisdictional partners to identify what supports are needed and to find ways to prevent delays in receiving health and social services.
July 2016 - The third annual gathering of Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees was held in Prince George on May 17-18, 2016. It was an exciting two days of celebration, sharing, learning, relationship building, action planning, and visioning for the future.
The theme of this year’s gathering was Growing Cultural Safety. The first day included a keynote speaker Rose Lemay, Director of Northern and Indigenous Health for the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement. Her presentation on cultural competence and humility was both challenging and inspiring. It included an in-depth history of colonialism in Canada from an Indigenous perspective.
Graphic recording by Colleen Stevenson of Rose LeMay's presentation.
July 2016 - On June 15, 2016, an announcement was made at Lheidli T’enneh Memorial Park by local and provincial government representatives about the progress made on implementing the Highway 16 Transportation Action Plan. The five-point action plan includes improvements to public transit, a First Nations driver education program, new transit shelters and webcams, and increased collaboration between existing transportation service providers along the corridor.
The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure announced $2 million in new provincial and federal funding for the now $5-million Action Plan. Over the last six months, the 12-member advisory group – made up of First Nations, municipal leaders, the First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health, and ministry representatives – has met regularly to move the plan forward, fine tune the details, and develop implementation strategies. Among the progress made, there is now a new webpage where First Nations communities, Aboriginal organizations, municipalities, regional districts and non-profit groups can apply for funding for community vehicles and operating grants.
April 2016 - On January 26, 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruled that the federal government discriminates against First Nations children by providing flawed and inequitable child welfare services compared to that available to other children.
In 2007, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations filed a human rights complaint against the federal government, alleging that Canada’s failure to provide equitable and culturally based child welfare services to First Nations children on-reserve amounts to discrimination on the basis of race and ethnic origin. After several unsuccessful efforts by the federal government to have the case dismissed on legal technicalities, a hearing on the complaint began in February 2013 and was completed in October 2014.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the federal funding formula provides First Nations child and family services agencies with fewer resources than their provincial counterparts, between 22 and 34 percent less than what other children receive. Moreover, the Tribunal found that federal funding formulas and policies create a perverse incentive to place First Nations children in foster care and do not address the cultural needs of children.
The ruling calls for the redesign of the child welfare system and its funding model, and recommends increasing funding and support to allow First Nations to deliver their own child welfare.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission listed child welfare equity and reform as its top Call to Action. The decision compared on-reserve child welfare to the residential school system, where “the fate and future of many First Nations children is still being determined by the government.” In fact, there are more First Nations children in foster care today than were in residential schools at the height of the residential school era.
For more information:
Image courtesy of First Nations Child and Family Caring Society
April 2016 - The North CoastAboriginal Health Improvement Committeee is pleased to launch a new video titled: Honouring Our Journey. This 25 minute video provides information for health care providers about the Haida and Tsimshian Nations’ culture and history, and how these impact their health care needs.
This video is a beautiful gift from the North Coast First Nations in hopes that we all are inspired to continue our learning journeys towards a culturally safe health care system for all First Nations and Aboriginal people. Another way to develop your understanding of First Nations and Aboriginal peoples is the San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, an online course by the Provincial Health Services Authority.
This booklet from Aboriginal Health summarizes the cultural resources developed by AHICs across the north in 2014-2015.
This article is an excerpt from a post first published on the NH Blog on February 11, 2016. Visit the blog post to read more.
Image is a still frame from the opening of Honouring Our Journey video.
April 2016 - On March 22, 2016, the federal government tabled its firstbudgett, which “proposed to invest $8.4 billion over five years [...] to improve the socioeconomic conditions of Indigenous peoples and their communities and bring about transformational change.” Areas of investment include education, housing, health, justice, child welfare and more.
A significant change from previous federal budgets is the commitment to lift the 2% funding cap for programs delivered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada that was put in place in the late 1990s at a time of significant fiscal restraint. In five years, total funding for Indigenous programs will be 22% above the level of funding that would have been provided under the previous 2% funding cap.
For a summary of the budget’s allocation to Indigenous issues, see the Assembly of First Nations 2016 Federal Budget Overview.
For all the details, see Budget 2016 Chapter 3 - A Better Future for Indigenous Peoples
April 2016 - Patricia Prince joined the University Hospital of Northern BC team as an Aboriginal Patient Liaison in February 2016. She has a BA in First Nations Studies and has submitted an application to pursue her Masters’ in Social Work, clinical content. She has many years experience in the Human Services field and most recently was the Aboriginal Patient Liaison in Quesnel at GR Baker Memorial Hospital. Patricia grew up in Takla Landing and has previously worked for her community in varying roles.
Patricia can be reached at:
Aboriginal Patient Liaisons (APLs) are an important part of the health care system within Northern Health. They work to ensure First Nations and Aboriginal patients, clients, residents and their families have access to high quality, culturally appropriate care. There are ten APL positions across the north, eight full-time positions that are currently filled, and two part-time positions in the South Peace that are currently recruiting.
January 2016 - The Aboriginal Health department was excited to launch a survey on December 1, 2015 to learn about what we can do to support Northern Health employees provide quality, culturally safe health care for First Nations and Aboriginal people and families.
In the two weeks the survety was open we recevied 1,294 responses. This information will provide valuable feedback on our work and will inform our future directions. Almost immediately we started hearing from respondents that they were previously unaware of the Aboriginal Health department and the support we offer. We also noted an increase in subscribers to the Aboriginal Health newsletter and direct email/phone inquiries about Aboriginal health-related topics.
We are working on compiling the responses we received. Preliminary findings suggest a desire for more information on Aboriginal health generally, as well as resources for Aboriginal patients. Employees also want cultural safety training in addition to the online course offered by the Provincial Health Services Authority.
We received suggestions for specific information on:
Congratulations to Yvonne DeBoer who won the draw for a Fitbit Charge HR and to the winners of Tim Hortons gift cards: Marina Meldrum, Jennifer Platzer, and Adele Bachand.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill out our survey! The survey is now closed. We look forward to taking action on the feedback we received.
December 2015 - Indian Residential Schools (IRS) are part of Canada’s history that is not well known or understood by many. Indian Residential Schools were created to separate Aboriginal children from their families in order to minimize and weaken family ties and cultural linkages, and to indoctrinate children into Euro-Christian Canadian society. The schools were government-funded and Church-run for well over 100 years, the last one closing in 1996. As a result of the IRS system and the abuses suffered by generations of Aboriginal children, Canada’s relationship with Aboriginal people has suffered and healing and reparation is needed.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was constituted as part of the Indian Residential Schools (IRS) Settlement Agreement implemented in 2007, which settled the largest class-action lawsuit in Canada’s history launched by several thousand survivors of IRS. The mandate of the TRC was to inform all Canadians about what happened in Indian Residential Schools. To this end, the Commission spent six years travelling to all parts of Canada documenting the truth of survivors, families, communities and anyone personally affected by the IRS experience. One of the key findings was that IRS facilitated cultural genocide.
On December 15, 2015, the TRC released its 6-volume final report, a comprehensive record of the policies and operations of the schools, what the TRC did, what was heard from more than 6,000 witnesses, and what was concluded about the schools. The report includes 94 calls to action (recommendations) to advance the process of reconciliation in Canada. The calls to action are in a range of categories including; child welfare, education, language and culture, health, and justice.
On December 8, 2015, the Prime Minister outlined a 5-point plan towards a new relationship with Indigenous people in Canada, which involves immediate action to:
December 2015 - On December 8, 2015, the Government of Canada announced a national inquiry into the high number of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls across the country. Although Indigenous women make up 4 per cent of the female population in Canada, 16 per cent of all women murdered in Canada between 1980 and 2012 were Indigenous. For many years, Indigenous families, communities and organizations, as well as non-governmental and international organizations have urged the Government of Canada to take action and lead a national inquiry.
The inquiry will unfold in two-stages, beginning immediately with engagement of survivors, family members and loved ones of victims, as well as National Aboriginal, provincial, and territorial representatives to seek input on the design and scope of the inquiry. An online survey is available for stakeholders to submit responses to questions that will guide the inquiry design process. As well, in-person gatherings will be held across the country. The BC Provincial Family Gathering will take place in Prince George January 31 to February 2, 2016.
After the engagement stage, the Government will report back on what has been learned from participants, which will inform the development of the inquiry, including the mandate, terms of reference, format, and time line.
Photo credit: “REDress Project installation” at the Canadian Museum of Human Rights; a response to missing and murdered Aboriginal women. Photo by Sean_Marshall licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0: www.flickr.com/photos/7119320@N05/19025632689
December 2015 - In northern BC, Highway 16 from Prince George to Prince Rupert is known as the Highway of Tears because of the high number of women, mostly Indigenous, who have gone missing along it. An RCMP investigation identified 18 women and girls who went missing or were murdered along Highway 16 and the nearby highways 97 and 5 since 1969.
On November 24, 2015, a transportation symposium was held in Smithers, BC, hosted by the First Nations Health Authority and BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The symposium included representatives from 23 First Nations communities along the Prince Rupert to Prince George Highway 16 corridor, the provincial government, municipal government organizations, Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority. The focus of the symposium was on finding safe and sustainable transportation options for people travelling this highway for both medical and non-medical reasons.
Following this symposium, on December 14, the BC government announced a $3 million plan to enhance transportation safety along this infamous stretch of road. A new ten-member advisory group made of local First Nations and municipal leaders will oversee the implementation of the plan in the coming months. The five-point action plan includes funding for:
Photo credit: "Highway of Tears" by Izithombe - Flickr: Highway of Tears. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Highway_of_Tears.jpg#/media/File:
December 2015 - First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and Northern Health (NH) are offering Wellness Grants for a maximum of $5,000 to support First Nations communities working to improve the health and well-being of First Nations in BC.
Eligible applicants are:
Wellness Grant Criteria:
Projects must support community-based initiatives that focus on holistic health and wellness and one or more of the following priorities:
Deadline for applications: January 8, 2016
Applicants are encouraged to submit prior to the deadline
For more information
October 2015 - In 2005, Northern Health initiated several Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (AHICs) that bring together local health leaders and community members from diverse sectors across the north. Together, AHIC members work collaboratively on local priorities to improve the health and well-being of First Nations and Aboriginal people, families and communities.
The second annual Gathering of AHICs took place this autumn on September 22-23 in Prince George. It brought together AHIC members with representatives from Northern Health and the First Nations Health Authority.
This gathering was held to provide opportunities for AHIC members to celebrate their accomplishments, explore innovative solutions, learn more about networking and team building, vision for the coming year, and strengthen relationships and partnerships.
AHIC members shared their successes, experiences, new ideas and strategies from the 2014-2015 Mapping and Cultural Resource Development initiatives. The outcomes of these initiatives are summarized in a mapping report and a cultural resource booklet.
At the gathering, AHICs worked together to create a visual representation of their allies, relationships and resources in their networks that they can rely on to work toward making their visions a reality for their regions. Knowing “we are not alone” in this integral work is important to sustain energy and momentum in our groups and communities (see image left for the network made by the Northeast AHIC).
To build on these incredible successes, a new Critical Action Planning initiative was announced for 2015-2016, with resources committed to implementing some of the new strategies and tools to address challenges identified by AHICs in their maps and resulting action plans. These are local strategies for local issues, building on the strengths of local communities, organizations and health teams.
Photo 1: Coco Miller, Community Engagement Coordinator, FNHA and Jennifer Grant, Health Director, Kitselas First Nation.
Photo 2: Spider web network made by the Northeast AHIC.
October 2015 - Health care in BC has just celebrated a unique milestone! October 1st marked the two-year anniversary of the transfer of health services from Health Canada to the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).
The First Nations Health Authority is unique in the country! It represents many years of dedicated work and collaboration between multiple governments and communities. The process began in 2005 with an agreement for multiple levels of government to work together to improve the health inequities experienced by First Nations people in the province. The transfer of programs and services to the First Nations Health Authority heralded a future of change and ongoing partnerships.
An FNHA Transfer anniversary event was hosted with Change Day BC at downtown Vancouver FNHA offices on October 1, 2015. The event included words from FNHA senior leadership, joined by Squamish Nation Chief Ian Campbell and representatives from Change Day BC.
Learn more about how the First Nations Health Authority marked the two-year anniversary.
It’s been an exciting and productive two years in the north! Northern Health has been working closely with northern First Nations and the First Nations Health Authority, blazing new ground and making strides towards improved health for First Nations and Aboriginal people and communities in the north.
For example, Project Advisory Committees (PACs) that include representatives from northern First Nations, FNHA and NH are working together to plan the delivery of Mobile Support Teams (MSTs) across the north that will bring increased access to Mental Health and Primary Care in First Nations communities. Four PACs are overseeing Phase 1 of the MST initiative centred in the following locations: Fort St. John, Quesnel, Dease Lake and Prince Rupert. Phase 2 of the initiative is planned to begin in early 2016 and will include additional locations. This is an exciting partnership initiative for permanent, community-developed and supported service improvements.
Learn more about the Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee.
Check out the fact sheet: An Overview of First Nations Health Governance in Northern British Columbia
October 2015 - A new book, Determinants of Indigenous Health in Canada: Beyond the Social, edited by Drs. Margo Greenwood, Sarah de Leeuw, Charlotte Loppie (Reading) and Nicole Lindsay, incorporates a broader understanding of determinants of Indigenous health in Canada and is a unique compilation of ideas, perspectives, and stories written primarily by Indigenous people.
Explaining why this book is important, Greenwood said: “These are stories that document resilience, strength, and solutions from a health context, offering a richness of information far beyond what we would ordinarily see in discussions centred only on the basic social determinants of health.”
In de Leeuw’s words: “What makes this book special is that it has been written by Indigenous people about Indigenous people and their viewpoints on health. It also provides an artistic lens on health issues rarely seen in academic medical texts. The book includes creative voice in the form of poems, stories and other art that provide a unique and serious reflection on health status.”
Determinants of Indigenous Health in Canada: Beyond the Social can be ordered through your local bookstore or online through Canadian Scholars’ Press. The book was supported through the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH) with funding from The Public Health Agency of Canada. All royalties from the book are going to the
First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada
Learn more from the NCCAH website.
Image: National Aboriginal Day in Prince Rupert, 2014 (V.Carter)
June 2015 - National Aboriginal Day is a time to celebrate the unique heritage, diverse cultures and outstanding achievements of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in Canada. Did you know that 30% of the Aboriginal people in BC live within the Northern Health region? There are 54 First Nations in the north and a great diversity of traditions, cultures and languages. There are also six Métis Associations and a small Inuit population. Of the 300,000 people served by Northern Health, over 17% are Aboriginal. In the northwest, this number jumps to 30%!
National Aboriginal Day events are a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the First Nations and Aboriginal peoples in your area and participate in cultural and wellness activities. Many of the local events on June 21 were supported by Day of Wellness grants from the First Nations Health Authority. 2015 was the biggest and best Aboriginal Day of Wellness yet with upwards of 30 culture and wellness events in over 20 northern communities. Visit the First Nations Health Authority website for more details and a full listing of Day of Wellness events that were held across the province.
Did you attend or participate in one of these fantastic events this year?
June 2015 - Earlier this year, the Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee submitted a successful project proposal to mobilize new resources to close service and program gaps for First Nations communities most in need in the north. These projects focus on mental wellness and substance use, and primary care.
The northern projects represent an intentional collaborative effort between the First Nations Health Authority and Northern Health to respond to community-identified needs and concerns for First Nations communities in northern BC as prioritized in the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan.
Traditional Wellness and the recognition that health and wellness are intimately connected and encompass emotional, mental, spiritual and physical aspects of health and well-being are central to the ideas and strategies presented in the projects. Visit the First Nations Health Authority website for more information and an overview of similar projects in the province.
June 2015 - Congratulations to Agnes Snow who was recently honoured with a BC Community Achievement Award for her leadership and dedication to improving the health and well-being of First Nations and Aboriginal people in northern BC. On April 24th, 2015, in Victoria, BC, Agnes was formally recognized for her contributions. Agnes worked as the Regional Director of Aboriginal Health in Northern Health for 3 years, and contributed over 15 years to Northern Health, retiring in 2013. Her leadership, sense of humor, and gentle spirit were an inspiration to people in all levels of the organization. Agnes’ work supported the healing and dignity of all, with wisdom drawn from her experiences as a First Nations woman and leader.
While Agnes was delighted to be honored with this award, she reminds us of the work of others on this important journey:
“I am really thankful for all the people I got to meet and know within the communities and within Northern Health who are dedicated to the health and well-being of Aboriginal people. Any of the improvements that were made, were made together and couldn't have been done without their support and inclusion. In particular, I would to acknowledge the Northern Health Aboriginal health team.”
As a leader in NH, she helped managers and staff to develop relationships with First Nations and Aboriginal people, and led the growth of Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees across the North. These collaborative committees were established to bring Northern Health leadership together with leaders of First Nations and Aboriginal organizations and communities for the purpose of improving services to First Nations and Aboriginal people. Agnes also oversaw the Aboriginal Health Initiative Program grants that support initiatives designed to improve the health and well-being of First Nations and Aboriginal people, families and communities. Agnes championed the Aboriginal Patient Liaison (APL) program in the north, which supports First Nations and Aboriginal patients in the health system to improve their experiences of care. She also led several region-wide conferences that focused on topics of importance to First Nations and Aboriginal people and communities.
Prior to joining the Aboriginal Health team, Agnes worked for over 10 years at the Nechako Treatment Center. She also served as Chief and as an alcohol and drug worker for the Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nations (Canoe Creek Band) and worked as a nurse in Vancouver for many years.
April 2015 - On February 24, Aboriginal Health participated in a webinar called Partnering for Change: Building new relationships for the health and well-being of northern First Nations people and communities. Speakers from Northern Health, the First Nations Health Authority, and the Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee shared their perspectives on the collaborative work undertaken in northern BC to improve the health and well-being of First Nations people and communities. Participants learned about the changing landscape of First Nations health governance and delivery in British Columbia with a focus on the innovative work and collaborative partnerships in the northern region.
In 2005, BC First Nations, the Province of BC, and the Government of Canada all agreed that health inequities experienced by First Nations people must be addressed. A New Relationship between these Tripartite Partners was forged and a series of precedent-setting agreements led to the creation of the First Nations Health Authority. In the north, the Northern Partnership Accord opened new doors for cooperation and planning. A committee was formed to implement the Accord and a plan was drafted and approved in the spring of 2014.
This webinar was part of an ongoing Citizen Series Webinars partnership between BC Healthy Communities and Northern Health. If you missed this webinar, you can access the recording, presentation and background reading here:
April 2015 - Over 2,000 people arrive in Prince Rupert every year to take part in the All Native Basketball Tournament. This year’s tournament was held February 8 - 14th and approximately 60 teams competed in four divisions: men’s intermediate, men’s seniors, men’s masters and women’s division (open).
Northern Health (NH) is a long-time sponsor and supporter of the tournament, and this year partnered with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) to host the Raven Room. This quiet space offered: relaxation and refreshments; health screening; and an opportunity to share ideas about healthier communities. NH and the FNHA partnered to support three Community Health Representatives (CHRs) to work with NH staff on health screening. After completing the week-long training, the CHRs returned home with new skills and certification to conduct health screening in their own communities.
Several NH departments worked together for the tournament. Doreen Bond, Regional Tobacco Reduction Coordinator, said, “...it was an honour to work collaboratively with the First Nations Health Authority and communities to promote and raise awareness around health and wellness...”
Holly Christian, Regional Lead of Men’s Health said, “This year we took a holistic approach to men’s health at the event by supporting a drumming and storytelling circle, and focusing on the role of men as positive role models in our communities.”
Congratulations to all the players, coaches and families that participated, as well as this year’s winners:
Metlakatla Mens Division Intermediates
Skidegate Men’s Division Seniors
Hydaburg Mens Division Masters
Bella Bella Women’s Division
Photo: Sam Bryant leading a drum circle for men's health in the Raven Room at the 2015 All Native Basketball Tournament.
April 2015 - Aboriginal Patient Liaisons (APLs) are an important part of the health care system within Northern Health. They work to ensure First Nations and Aboriginal patients, clients, residents and their families have access to high quality, culturally appropriate care. They facilitate communication and cultural understanding between patients and care providers. If a patient or family would like a translator, space for ceremony, or access to spiritual or cultural advisors, APLs can help coordinate these resources. They can assist with transitions to other facilities and with the return home.
There are nine APLs across the north, and after a brief vacancy in Fort St. John and some transition in the Quesnel position, all nine are permanently filled again. The most recent addition to the APL team is Brittany Brinkworth. She is based at the Fort St. John hospital but also provides support to Fort Nelson and area. Brittany grew up in the Doig River community, has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work, and experience working with youth, Elders and families in the surrounding Aboriginal communities.
If you would like to know who the APL is in your area or for more information on services APLs provide, visit the APL page on the Aboriginal Health website.
If you would like pamphlets to help promote the APL program in your community, please email:
April 2015 - Aboriginal Health is pleased to release a new report on First Nations men's health in northern BC. This report is the result of a shared desire by the Aboriginal Health and Men’s Health programs at Northern Health to undertake a careful and respectful exploration of First Nations men’s health in northern BC. The purpose was to learn about barriers and challenges that First Nations men face in accessing health services, about challenges faced by those providing services to First Nations men, and about successes, promising practices and opportunities for positive change.
Rebuilding Strength: First Nations Men’s Health in Northern BC
A brief companion document report focuses on the voices of First Nations men who offered their experiences and knowledge to the development of the report.
Rebuilding Strength: Voices of First Nations Men in Northern BC
February 2015 - The All Native Basketball Tournament is an annual celebration of sport, community and culture that is hosted in Prince Rupert. This year the tournament will be February 8 to 14. Northern Health is proud to have been a sponsor since 2002. Our participation in the tournament has changed over the years, and last year we hosted a quiet space for Elders and others to rest and share conversations about healthy communities. It was such a success that we are doing it again this year in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority. We encourage all Northern Health employees in the area to come to the tournament and participate in this fantastic event and to stop by the Raven Room.
This February 13 to March 1 the Canada Winter Games will come to the traditional territory of the Lheidli T’enneh! This is the first time in the history of the games that a First Nation has been recognized as an Official Host. The history of the Lheidli T’enneh is a big part of the history of the City of Prince George and the entire region. The games provide an opportunity to showcase and share the Lheidli T’enneh culture with the Canadian public.
For example, Jennifer Annaïs Pighin is a proud member of the Lheidli T’enneh Band and an artist and educator located in Prince George, BC. Her artwork is featured in the 2015 Canada Winter Games’ brand scene (above). Her ancestry includes Wet’suwet’un (a Dakelh/Carrier First Nation), French Canadian and Italian. She grew up on the banks of the North Nechako River developing a fond understanding of, and strong enduring bond with, the natural environment.
Image: Used with permission of Director, Marketing and Communications, 2015 Canada Winter Games.
February 2015 - Aboriginal Health was invited to participate in a project with key collaborators from UNBC and the First Nations Health Authority about the use of storytelling and narrative in relation to health and well-being in northern British Columbia. Supported by funding from Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the project hosted a two-day gathering and workshop at the end of January in Smithers, BC. As part of this event, we were treated to a screening of a digital story from Knowledge holders and Elders of the Wet’suwet’en Nation called Yin kak honzu: The earth is beautiful.
Storytelling is a way of sharing and interpreting experiences and lends itself to bridging cultural, linguistic, age and other divides. Oral storytelling is an important part of many First Nations and Aboriginal cultures and has been for thousands of years. Recently we are starting to see this oral tradition emerge across diverse disciplines and settings in multiple forms, including digital storytelling, photovoice, literature, poetry, traditional oral storytelling, theatre, and personal narrative, to name a few.
In September 2014, members of the Aboriginal Health team presented to a Northern Health leadership forum on storytelling. In the presentation, participants had an opportunity to select a personal story, draw it symbolically, and share it with another participant. The experience allowed participants to be both storytellers and listeners and to reflect on the impact of the process on their relationship with their story and with each other. The experience showed how storytelling can be a simple and yet transformational process for communicating, reflecting, and building connections.
For more on stories and health, read this short commentary by Sarah de Leeuw in Stories in Family Medicine.
Photo: Mountain goat in Babine Mountains Provincial Park just north of Smithers, BC. PictureBC.ca
February 2015 - Daryl Petsul manages the medicine and maternity departments at GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel. He supervises over 80 full-time and casual staff, 85% of who have completed the Indigenous Cultural Competency training course offered through PHSA. Across Northern Health, approximately 30% of staff has completed the course. Why is the completion rate so high for this staff group?
There are a few things Daryl does to encourage staff to take the training. Every time the course is offered, he sends a reminder to all the staff he supervises. When he meets with staff for regular performance evaluations, he chats about the ICC course and shares what he learned when he took it. He personally engaged with the course and is able to share his experience in a way that motivates others to engage in the learning too. He promotes it as a wonderful course and the feedback he receives from staff are that it was well worth their time and effort. Daryl recognizes the previous manager, Pat Tresierra, and their assistant, Christine McCann, who have also continually encouraged staff to take the course.
If you supervise staff, you have a role to play in encouraging others to take the ICC training. Make sure you have taken the training and develop your own understand of why it is important for all NH staff to increase their cultural competency. Consider sharing what you got out of the course with your staff. It helps creates a personal connection which leads to better engagement.
The Indigenous Cultural Competency training is an eight hour online course available free for all Northern Health staff. Let’s attain 100% completion! Check online for the next available session and sign up with your Northern Health email address.
Photo: GR Baker Memorial Hospital in Quesnel, BC from northernhealth.ca
November 2014 - Through Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (AHICs), Aboriginal Health is investing in mapping, a collaborative learning process with First Nations and Aboriginal communities and organizations, to better understand service gaps and opportunities for improvement in First Nations and Aboriginal patient experiences of health services.
Process mapping is an exercise that explores the details of a particular aspect or process of health services or programs to gain a better understanding of challenges, strengths, gaps, barriers and opportunities to improve. Patient journey mapping includes interviews with patients about their experiences accessing health care and seeking support for health issues.
Mapping was introduced at the June AHIC Gathering where Margo Greenwood, VP Aboriginal Health, announced financial and staffing support for AHICs to undertake these activities. Since then, eight mapping sessions have been held in five different communities. Several more are planned to unfold over the fall and winter months. Some of the topics that AHICs have chosen to explore include: the process of an Elder patient returning to their home community after receiving services at a Northern Health Acute Care facility, discharge planning, and also the journey through maternal and child health services from prenatal care to six months postpartum.
The opportunity to engage in mapping has been received with enthusiasm by both First Nations and Aboriginal communities and NH staff alike. It is a great way to learn about each other’s health care realities and to contribute towards common solutions. Thanks to Linda Axen, Nursing Research Coordinator for Quality and Innovation at Northern Health, for facilitating the initial mapping sessions and building mapping capacity with our Aboriginal Health Leads who will now be carrying this initiative forward into spring 2015.
Image: An example of a graphic representation of the mapping process in Fort Nelson, by Theresa Healy, Lead Healthy Community Development.
November 2014 - Northern Health’s Aboriginal Health Initiative Program (AHIP) is a granting program that began in 2002. Through these short-term grants, we support First Nations and Aboriginal communities and organizations in their work of improving health for First Nations and Aboriginal people.
The Aama Goot Women’s Wellness Program, run by Carol Azak out of the Friendship House in Prince Rupert, is one such project that has been supported by an AHIP grant. Thirty four women meet weekly and work on designing a mural using house crests, buttons, and colours to tell a story about their family structure. Some of the women also help with the Power Puff girls’ group, where 32 girls aged 7 to 12 years old meet weekly to design their own family mural and do other crafts.
Participants also help prepare healthy snacks, build friendships, and support each other, developing these activities and skills to use at home with their family and friends too. In addition to weekly events, 12 women graduated from an anger management program which was delivered in partnership with the Friendship House alcohol and drug counsellor and Northern Health’s mental health program. Through the Aama Goot program, Carol also makes referrals to other community resources and assists family members as needed with filling out forms and writing letters.
Image: Carol Azak, Friendship House, Prince Rupert. This article was originally printed in the August 2014 edition of Northern Health’s A Healthier You magazine.
In May 2014, Margo Greenwood presented in Banff, AB at a roundtable gathering titled Northern, Rural or Remote Healthcare: Enhancing Improvement through Collaboration. She spoke about implementing the Northern First Nations Health and Wellness Plan within Northern Health (NH). In particular, how NH is working to ready the organization for collaborative partnerships with the First Nations of the north and the First Nations Health Authority to address the health status of northern First Nations individuals and communities.
Some of the concrete actions NH has undertaken to ensure that we can be a good partner, as well as create the environment for success of the partnership work, includes: 1) creating new structures, such as the VP position of Aboriginal Health, and 2) enhancing existing structures, such as the Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees. In addition, the Aboriginal Health team’s focus is shifting towards knowledge translation in an effort to support NH practitioners and employees, as well as Aboriginal communities and individuals. This focus will include activities like developing strong internal and external communication strategies, developing resources, and facilitating relationships, all with the ultimate goal of integrating a holistic approach to health into the NH organizational structure.
August 2014 - The Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee is pleased to release Implementing Our Health and Wellness Plan: An Overview. This document summarizes a comprehensive plan that was developed with the guidance and direction of Northern First Nations community leadership over the past year. It was endorsed by the Northern Health Board, and received its final approval from Northern Chiefs at their First Nations Health Council Regional Caucus meeting in April 2014.
Implementing Our Health and Wellness Plan: An Overview is meant to communicate the complex work of transforming the health system for Northern First Nations. The broad themes in which the goals are grouped are: programs and services, operations and infrastructure, managing information, and measuring status and success. Within these themes are clustered 14 goals that relate to: developing cultural competency and safety, improving accessibility of services, supporting mental wellness, developing collaborative communications activities, and supporting a locally representative health workforce, to name a few. From these goals, specific objectives and implementation activities were identified.
"This partnership with Northern Health has demonstrated that the North is a leader in advancing strategies that will serve to improve the health status for Northern First Nations people,” said Warner Adam, First Nations Health Council Northern Regional Caucus Representative. “Our job collectively is to close the health gap that exists between First Nations and the rest of BC citizens. Part of the strategy includes innovation and thinking outside the current medical system and structures."
The Plan also highlights four cross-cutting themes to be taken into account within all goals. They are factors related to: urban/away from home, regional rural and remoteness, social determinants of health, and traditional approaches and practices. In some cases, specific strategies will be developed to ensure attention is given to these cross-cutting themes. In addition, the Committee identified four goals as working priorities for the 2014 year: cultural competency, primary health care, public and population health, and mental wellness and substance use.
"Working collaboratively with First Nations health providers and communities is important to help improve the health of Northern First Nations people," said Margo Greenwood, Northern Health's Vice-President of Aboriginal Health. "Northern Health recognizes health services have to be delivered in a culturally appropriate and safe manner, and this plan identifies specific goals to achieve this objective."
The Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee was established to implement the goals of the Northern Partnership Accord, which was signed in May 2012 by the First Nations Health Council Northern Regional Health Caucus, the (then interim) First Nations Health Authority, and Northern Health. This historic Accord opens new doors for cooperation and planning to improve health outcomes for Northern First Nations (see Media Release, May 2012).
“It has been an absolute honour to be a part of this work supporting the growing partnership between our communities and partners at Northern Health. This is a historic time in First Nations health with communities taking ownership of their health, their health authority, and moving their priorities forward,” said Nicole Cross, Northern Regional Director with the First Nations Health Authority. “Building on the years of work of our political leadership through the FNHC it is very exciting for us all to be in a place where we can begin to roll up our sleeves and address the health priorities of our Northern communities collaboratively.”
Over 35% of the First Nations population in BC lives in the Northern Region. First Nations in Northern BC face distinct health service challenges with many remote communities spread out over a vast area. The ongoing partnership between Northern Health, the First Nations Health Authority, and the First Nations Health Council is creating new opportunities and finding solutions to the diverse challenges related to health service delivery while acknowledging the wider social determinants that impact health and wellness.
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) is the first province-wide health authority of its kind in Canada. In 2013, the FNHA assumed the programs, services, and responsibilities formerly handled by Health Canada's First Nations Inuit Health Branch Pacific Region. Our vision is to transform the health and well-being of BC's First Nations and Aboriginal people by dramatically changing healthcare for the better.
The First Nations Health Council (FNHC) is the political and advocacy arm of the First Nations Health Governance Structure in BC that also includes the FNHA and First Nations Health Directors Association. The Northern FNHC Regional Health Caucus is composed of and represents Northern First Nations and serves as the regional planning and engagement forum for First Nations health in the North.
Northern Health is one of five provincial health authorities in the province of BC. It is divided into three Health Service Delivery Areas: Northeast, Northern Interior, and Northwest, similar to the three sub-regions the Northern Caucus has organized around. Northern Health employs over 7,000 people to provide health services to 300,000 people over an area of 600,000 square kilometers.
The Northern First Nations Health Partnership Committee includes representation from Northern Health, the FNHC, FNHA, and Northern First Nations. The Committee was struck shortly after the signing of the Northern Partnership Accord and began meeting in September 2012. Brief Communiques summarize the Committee meetings and are available on the Northern Health website.
Northern Partnership Accord
Tripartite First Nations Health Plan
July 2014 - Northern First Nations and Northern Health (NH) are working together to improve the health and well-being of First Nations people and communities in the north. This committee was established to implement the goals of the Northern Partnership Accord, signed in May 2012. Learn more about these meetings in the summary Communiques. The most recent meeting was held on June 17 in Prince George.
In our last newsletter we introduced Implementing Our Health and Wellness plan: An Overview. This document has since been updated based on feedback from the Northern Health Board of Directors and the Northern First Nations Caucus. At the North Regional Caucus meeting in April, the plan was officially accepted by the Northern Chiefs. The full plan will be available soon. Working groups are being constituted to begin implementing the goals. The priority areas where work will begin include: primary health care, population and public health, mental wellness and substance use, and cultural competency.
Congratulations to Nicole Cross who became the Regional Director for the Northern Region of the First Nations Health Authority in October 2013. She provides strategic leadership and technical support to the 54 Nations of the Northern region, including regional First Nation engagement, leadership in partnership development with NH, administration of regional funding envelope and reporting and monitoring regional activity. Nicole and Margo Greenwood, VP of Aboriginal Health, meet regularly and are working with a range of leaders in NH from the mental health to primary care teams.
July 2014 - Northern Health (NH) was well represented both in attendance and by a presentation at the Moving Forward: Building Culturally Safe Organizations conference held in Vancouver on March 24-26, 2014. The conference was sponsored by the Provincial Health Services Authority and brought together amazing speakers from across the province and country, and even as far away as Australia! Thirty-four NH delegates from a range of disciplines and roles in the organization attended this educational opportunity.
Cultural safety is socially constructed and is equally important to caregivers and those they serve. Cultural safety is experienced by patients when health care providers communicate and act in respectful, inclusive ways. The ultimate goal is for First Nations and Aboriginal people to feel welcome and safe from discrimination in health care environments. Gerry Oleman, Master of Ceremonies for the event, told participants that we are all leaders and that we all have a sphere of influence for promoting cultural safety.
Cathy Ulrich, Chief Executive Officer for NH, spoke about how NH continues to build cultural safety in the organization. The creation of a Vice President of Aboriginal Health position, subsequently accepted by Dr. Margo Greenwood, demonstrates Northern Health’s commitment to supporting cultural safety through transformation and change. She also spoke about the Partnership Accord with the First Nations Health Authority and how having the Northern Caucus and NH’s Executive team at this table ensures this work is well supported. Highlighting the importance of partnerships at all levels in NH, she spoke of the need for humility to learn from mistakes as we embark together on this journey.
During the concurrent sessions, a team of NH staff (pictured above) presented more information about this journey within NH. The PowerPoints are available online: Building Cultural Safety at all levels of Northern Health Part 1, Part 2
Image: Michael Melia, Bev Lambert, Anne Chisholm, Penny Anguish, Victoria Carter, Theresa Healy, Yvonne Tupper, Angela De Smit
July 2014 - Michael Melia, Director of Mental Health and Addictions in the Northwest, is committed to developing cultural safety among his team. Approximately 54% of his clinical staff and 72% of his community teams have completed the online Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICC) Training. He has plans and supports in place to continue to increase cultural safety training among his teams.
His teams have established several partnerships with Aboriginal communities and organizations resulting in initiatives such as the Hazelton Wellness Taskforce. As Melia described it, “this inter-agency group formed in 2008 as Hazelton’s Suicide Task Force and through relationship building and collaboration developed the First Nation Action & Support Team (FAST) crisis response team and has now evolved to reflect the focus on improving mental wellness and resilience.”
Another example is the Wellness Warriors in Haida Gwaii. Melia said that, “following the adult addictions day treatment model, this community-led partnership between Old Masset Health Centre, Haida Gwaii Society for Community Peace, Northern Health and many other agencies, it has transformed to a weekly gathering of people focused on nurturing wellness through an atmosphere of openness and non-judgmental support. What made this possible was a client-driven approach, a mandate of decolonization, and honoring healthy relationships with the world around us.” Sharing what he has learned in these partnership journeys he said, “be honest, under commit and over deliver, be consistent, and be a real person.”
The Indigenous Cultural Competency Training is an online training offered through the Provincial Health Services Authority. NH purchases seats each year to sponsor employees’ ongoing learning about cultural safety. Register online with your Northern Health email address.
July 2014 - Northern Health is proud to support the All Native Basketball Tournament held every February in Prince Rupert. Starting in 2006 with one lone table on tobacco reduction, NH has offered its support and has learned and grown alongside of the tournament. This year, NH involvement shifted as we sponsored and hosted the Raven Room. This was a quiet room furnished with cosy furniture and low lighting - a quiet retreat where Elders could rest in comfort, nursing moms could feed their babies in peace and quiet, and where private health screening was available to anyone interested. Conversations and memories about what makes a community healthy were shared. This year, for the first time ever, people spoke of the tournament as a place where sport, culture and health came together. The Raven Room is a tangible measure of that success.
Our congratulations to the following tournament winners:
Senior Men’s Championship - Skidegate Saints
Intermediate Men’s Championship - Skidegate Saints
Master’s Championship - Old Masset
Women’s Championship - Metlakatla Crest
July 2014 - Aboriginal Health Improvement Committees (AHICs) are an important venue for health representatives from First Nations and Aboriginal communities and organizations, the First Nations Health Authority, and local Northern Health (NH) leadership to work in partnership on identified health care issues facing First Nations and Aboriginal people. Eight AHICs meet regularly throughout the north.
A regional AHIC gathering was held on June 18-19 in Prince George. This gathering brought representatives from each AHIC together to gather information, share knowledge, reflect on practice, vision possibilities, enhance and develop new partnerships, and strengthen relationships with NH. The day and a half gathering was a creative, productive and inspiring time that resulted in tangible steps moving forward including: 1) plans for development of community-based cultural resources, and 2) process and patient journey mapping projects.
Image: Participants made "Strengths Quilts" that represent the many assets that exist in their communities.
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