September 30, 2021 will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.”
BC Health Regulators (BCHR) and its member colleges acknowledge the atrocities of the residential school system and we share in the sorrow and outrage expressed by First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples, and all Canadians.
We are also accountable to a broader call to action to eliminate anti-Indigenous racism across Canadian society. As regulators of 120,000 health professionals in BC, we have a leadership role in creating more culturally safe experiences and supportive health care environments for Indigenous people.
The designation of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as an annual statutory day fulfills a recommendation made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, which in 2015 issued 94 calls to action as part of its mandate to inform all Canadians about what happened in residential schools.
The September 30 date is also observed as Orange Shirt Day, promoting recognition of the colonial legacy of residential schools and commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation.
The history of Canada’s residential schools is part of a larger story of colonialism that also saw segregated “Indian Hospitals” operating during the 1930s through to the 1970s and ‘80s, including in British Columbia.
Today, Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in BC health care persists, both through bias shown by individual health care professionals, as well as health system structures and practices that disadvantage Indigenous Peoples.
BCHR and its member colleges recognize the harmful impacts of racism directed towards Indigenous Peoples in British Columbia’s health-care system. We are committed to working with partners on shared initiatives that will support all regulated health professionals in delivering care with a greater focus on Cultural Safety and Humility. Our work to date includes:
We recognize that learning more about Cultural Safety and Humility, and using this knowledge to change practice, is an ongoing journey. We are grateful for our partnerships with the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) and other organizations, which are supporting our efforts by sharing resources, providing educational opportunities and offering counsel.