Aboriginal Awareness Week: May 23 - 27

May 17, 2017 | News

Many thanks to Care Connection for sharing this article with us!

Several years ago, PHC embarked on a journey toward Patient and Family Centred Care and cultural safety.

At the same time, distinct support and care services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis patients and families were developed, in response to the intergenerational trauma faced by these communities, which were often triggered by experiences in our health care settings. Our journey to cultural safety includes meaningful engagement of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities in the services we offer at PHC, and more importantly, how they are offered.

In order to determine how things are progressing, PHC organized a safe space to listen to aboriginal patients and families we serve, and held a feast on March 6 called “Sharing Our Medicine.”

The PHC Aboriginal Health Team (Carol Kellman, Neil Fowler and Rebecca Hatch), along with Kate McNamee (PHC Practice Consultant for the Care Experience) and Aggie Black (PHC Research Leader, Professional Practice) collaborated to invite members of the First Nations, Inuit and Métis community who had been patients or family members of patients at St Paul’s to join us for an evening of sharing their lived experiences of receiving care at PHC. An important part of cultural safety is decolonizing spaces and environments and providing care and engagement in settings that reflect the traditional territories, wisdom and values.

On March 6, we held a Talking Circle and Feast complete with West Coast foods. The evening was opened with drumming and a welcome to the territory by a kwa kwa ka’ kwak member Robert Williams. He shared with us his ancestors’ teachings on feastings and collective dialogue. A talking circle protocol was used to provide safe uninterrupted dialogue.

There were 36 participants from diverse communities from across Canada. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 86. Each of the 36 people in the circle was able to speak and share. First Nations, Inuit and Métis cultures place a high importance on spoken words – it is how traditional knowledge, ceremony and culture are shared. With permission from everyone in attendance, the words and experiences shared in the room were collected in notes, and included four main themes: Respect, Culturally Safe or Unsafe Care, Racism, and Giving Thanks/ Moving Forward.

Midway through the Feast, one of the children reacted to what he’d heard from participants, saying, “Help the people to be nice and not mean.” It was very important that the voice of the future generation was heard.

The March 6 gathering was full of emotions and deeply moving experiences that left us motivated to work to make PHC a more culturally safe place. The personal narratives and suggestions from participants at the Feast provide some initial steps for moving forward, including their clear support for the work of the PHC Aboriginal Health Team. A full report of the findings will be shared with participants and with PHC leadership and will help us to guide service delivery and be more responsive and respectful of the shared lands and diverse experiences of our First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

The March 6 Feast was supported with funding from Candy Garossino, PHC Director of Professional Practice.

Care Experience

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