Patricia Daly | June 11th, 2015
On September 22 last year, I participated in the Walk for Reconciliation in downtown Vancouver. I know a number of other VCH staff also participated, who will remember that it was cold and pouring rain, but that did not stop 70,000 of all ages completing the 4 km walk alongside Aboriginal residential school survivors.
On June 2, Justice Murray Sinclair, Chair of the Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released his long awaited report. I haven’t read the report and its recommendations yet but the conclusion that the residential school program amounted to “cultural genocide” has certainly resonated with Canadians.
What can we do?
What can we do as VCH staff and care providers to contribute to the reconciliation process? Sometimes even simple things can make a big difference. We were reminded of this point recently when our VCH executive showed up for a breakfast my team organized to bring leaders together who were attending Gathering Our Wisdom, an annual Aboriginal event. The presence of our VCH Leaders there had a huge impact. It communicated respect. It was a sign that VCH cares and that we are serious about improving the health of the Aboriginal population. Weeks afterwards, we are still hearing about how big of a bang that breakfast had. It went a long way. But we still have a ways to go to reach our destination.
VCH Aboriginal Health Team
Our VCH Aboriginal Health Team continues to support practice, policy and partnership development and to provide specific services such as Aboriginal Patient Navigators. And teams across the health region are taking the Indigenous Cultural Competency on-line training course to strengthen their practice, and collaborating with Aboriginal organizations to better serve the community. VCH recently signed off on an Aboriginal Cultural Competency policy and our Executive will soon be renewing the Tripartite Accord with the Vancouver Coastal Caucus (i.e. representatives from First Nations within the VCH geography) and the First Nations Health Authority. These are just some of the ways that many of us are working to make a difference. But the journey continues. As the saying goes, “one boat, many paddles.” We’ll make faster progress if we are all paddling in the same direction.
What will you do?
June 21 is National Aboriginal Day. How do you plan to acknowledge the day?