More than 28,000 B.C. health professionals can now reference clear expectations to eliminate Indigenous-specific racism and foster culturally safe care in their practice in a new Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility and Anti-racism Standard of Practice*, thanks to a joint initiative between 11 BC health profession regulatory colleges.
The work involved a collaboration between the College of Chiropractors of BC, College of Dietitians of BC, College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC, College of Occupational Therapists of BC, College of Opticians of BC, College of Optometrists of BC, College of Pharmacists of BC, College of Physical Therapists of BC, College of Psychologists of BC, College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC, and College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC.
The standard of practice provides clarity for registrants about what culturally safe and anti-racist care looks like for Indigenous clients, laying a path that each registrant can follow to ensure better care experiences and outcomes for Indigenous clients.
The 11 colleges formally adopted the new standard during the week of September 26 and marked this moment with a First Nation ceremony on September 30, the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.
“Ultimately, the goal of the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-racism Standard of Practice is to improve outcomes and care, to meet physical, mental/emotional, spiritual and cultural needs of Indigenous clients, and to eliminate the discrimination, racism, and health inequities they have experienced in the health-care system,” says Joanie Bouchard, Registrar, College of Dietitians of BC, who led the initiative on behalf of the colleges.
The new standard is adapted from a standard of practice introduced in February 2022 by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC following a process that included engagement and consultation with Indigenous registrants, Indigenous members of the public, and Indigenous partners and organizations such as the First Nations Health Authority. The Yukon Registered Nurses Association has since adopted their standard as well.
Work on the new standard was guided by Sulksun (Shane Pointe), proud member of the Coast Salish Nation and the Musqueam Indian Band, and Knowledge Keeper to all, and Joe Gallagher (k’wunəmɛn) of Tla’amin Nation, Principal at Qoqoq Consulting Ltd.
“I have also witnessed you launch your collective canoe into an ocean of troubled waters with both courage and strength of heart, to bring into balance health care equity for the 150,000 First Nations People and the citizens of British Columbia who live on our Ancestral Lands. You are doing this by addressing and alleviating the systemic racism within the health care system,” says Sulksun (Shane Pointe), as told to the College of Dietitians of BC and the 10 other participating colleges. “I am proud of you for your industry in this most important history making task and look forward to supporting into the future.”
Adopting the standard of practice honours the colleges’ commitment to address Indigenous-specific racism in health care. It also acts on recommendations in the November 2020 In Plain Sight report, which advocates for greater support for cultural safety and humility, addressing Indigenous-specific racism in the BC health-care system, and for colleges to collaborate together to promote consistency for Indigenous clients.
“For 11 colleges to finalize this standard of practice together, it shows the journey we have taken so far and the collective learning and wisdom we received from our Indigenous partners. A few years ago, this would not have been possible,” adds Bouchard.
“The most rewarding thing for me is the initial reaction and feedback received by the Indigenous partners and groups we interacted with since we started working on the standard. Their response was: ‘Finally. And thank you.’ ”
*The standard of practice on the CDBC website is just one example from the 11 colleges.