Indigenous-led Health Initiatives

Around the world, including here, in British Columbia (BC), Indigenous people continue to experience poorer health than non-Indigenous people across all health indicators. The Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) implements several initiatives to address these health disparities: The Indigenous Physicians Network engages and provides opportunities for connection among Indigenous students, residents, physicians, and health allies across BC; the RCCbc on Inclusion, Social Justice and Equity (RISE) reference group fosters network relationships, supports continued learning and growth, and champions 

the application of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action within RCCbc’s work; and the Compassionate Leadership Community of Practice and its training program instills connective, empathic skills in rural health leaders. RCCbc also acknowledges the work of UBC Rural Continuing Professional Development’s (UBC RCPD) Rural CPD Indigenous Patient-Led CPD program, which brings rural Indigenous community members and rural physicians together for Nation-led cultural safety education. (See UBC RCPD’s annual report.)

Our Achievements

C

Indigenous Physicians Network held the 2022 Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering

The Indigenous Physicians Network brought together Indigenous students, residents, and physicians and non-Indigenous allies for its fourth Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering in late March. This annual event equips participants with skills to cope with systemic racism, develop a community of practice to address Indigenous health challenges, and foster well-being and resilience by incorporating Indigenous cultural teachings, workshops, and activities. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the event was held in person at the University of British Columbia’s Medical Student Alumni Centre in Vancouver with more than 65 participants. Dr. and Elder Roberta Price supported and led the group, which included four keynote speakers: Dr. Esther Tailfeathers, Elle-Maije Tailfeathers, N’alaga (Avis O’Brien), and Ross Reid. Georgia Vermette, a fourth-year Island Medical Program student, also supported the event as a new co-chair, and incorporated this work as a platform for her flexible and enhanced learning project.

C

RISE published the first edition of RCCbc’s Truth and Reconciliation progress report

In the past year, the leadership of the RCCbc for Inclusion, Social Justice, and Equity (RISE) reference group shifted to Dr. Todd Alec from Drs. Terri Aldred and Bob Woollard. The reference group continued working with RCCbc program leads, including those for Real-Time Virtual Support, Point-of-Care Ultrasound, and the Rural Surgical and Obstetrical Network, to ensure their efforts contribute to reconciliation. Given RCCbc close collaboration with British Columbia’s Indigenous Peoples, RCCbc, through the the RISE reference group, developed a progress report, called The Rural Coordination Centre of BC’s Response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, to help keep the RCCbc network  accountable to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action to advance reconciliation. To create the progress report, RISE identified the Calls to Action that align with RCCbc’s mandate, then asked healthcare leaders and staff to reflect on, and assess, how their current work contributes to these Calls to Action. In addition to learning about the considerations and contributions that RCCbc’s teams have made so far, RISE also discovered areas of work that still need attention. 

C

Expanded Compassionate Leadership training program with Team Atleo

The RCCbc Compassionate Leadership Team continued piloting, then expanded Compassionate Leadership training with Shawn and Heather Atleo for rural health leaders. This training, grounded in Indigenous and Western pedagogy, enhances participants’ ability to develop a leadership philosophy, approach, and skills wrapped in relationality and foundational principles to add no harm”, focus on connection before content, and build non-violent resilience. This year, one pilot group (12 participants from the Partnership Pentagram Plus Group) completed training, while a second pilot group (12 participants from the University Hospital of Northern BC) started its Compassionate Leadership journey. Training workshops were then expanded to cohorts from the Practice Improvement Hub (12 participants) and RCCbc (9 participants). Preparations were also made for an additional cohort of 14 participants from the Real-Time Virtual Support Program, which will begin training in May 2022. 

BC Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering, 2022 

Making a Difference

Indigenous-led Health Initiatives continue to flourish across the RCCbc network.  

In the coming year, the BC Indigenous Physicians Network will plan and hold its 2023 Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering. It will also actively seek funding to enable more participants to attend this important event. And while the Network will continue to focus on Indigenous provider wellness, connection, and mentorship/support, it hopes to expand its membership and program so more people can experience its positive impact.  

Meanwhile, RCCbc for Inclusion, Social Justice, and Equity (RISE) will continue to foster network relationships, support continued learning and growth, and champion the application of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action within the RCCbc network. In the coming year, RISE will also aim to increase physician and gender representation, along with medical student and resident involvement.  

Finally, the Compassionate Leadership Team will continue holding in-person and virtual retreats. In addition to building and nurturing relationships with health leaders across the RCCbc network, the team will continue to focus on the coordination, administration, and operational expansion of the Compassionate Leadership training program. It has received significant interest in training from groups and individuals from around the province, now on a waitlist.  

Team Members

Dr. Terri Aldred
Dr. Terri Aldred

Dr. Todd Alec
Dr. Todd Alec

Dr. Robert Woollard
Dr. Robert Woollard
Kassia Skolski

Kassia Skolski

Former Project Coordinator