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.)
“Be more comfortable incorporating Indigenous ways into my practice — while this is something I have always wanted to do; it is difficult with stigma from western medicine and from students who do not come from this background. It helps to know there are other physicians and people with these beliefs and it motivates me to hold onto this passion.”
Indigenous Physicians Network held the 2023 Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering
The Indigenous Physicians Network brought together over 60 Indigenous students, residents, and physicians and non-Indigenous allies for its fifth Indigenous Medicine Education Gathering in March. This annual event equips participants with skills to cope with systemic racism and develop a community of practice to address Indigenous health challenges. The program incorporated feedback from previous gatherings to provide more time and support for circles with Elders. Dr. and Elder Roberta Price and Elder Cheryl Schweizer supported and led the group, which included two included keynote speakers Dr. Danièle Behn Smith and Dr. Shannon Waters. Attendees also celebrated the successful achievements of Indigenous physicians, including Dr. Nel Weinman’s appointment as the Chief Medical Officer at First Nations Health Authority and Dr. Shannon McDonald’s retirement after many years of dedicated care and service. The mentorship social night at Skwachàys Lodge and the weekend at the First Nations Longhouse at UBC provided opportunities for participants to connect and build a supportive community.
RISE Lunch and Learn: Reconnecting and Building Connections
The RCCbc for Inclusion, Social Justice and Equity (RISE) focused on engaging current and new members of their network by hosting a RISE Lunch and Learn session. During the event, participants were introduced to the RISE team, and the organization’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, the In Plain Sight report’s recommendations, and RISE’s focus areas. The session provided a forum for members to discuss health equity for Indigenous peoples and provide feedback on RISE’s focus areas and the necessary support needed. RISE also collaborated with the Real Time Virtual Support’s CHARLiE evaluation group to ensure post-surveys were accessible to Indigenous peoples accessing culturally safe care with CHARLiE providers.
Explore the Numbers
Attended the Indigenous Medical Education Gathering.
Dr. and Elder Roberta Price and Elder Cheryl Schweizer led and supported the Indigenous Physicians Network.
Attended the RISE lunch and learn.
Plans for the Future
In the coming year, the BC Indigenous Physicians Network will plan and hold its 2024 Indigenous Medical Education Gathering. It will continue to develop its partner relationships and encourage new planning committee members to get involved and review feedback from the previous gathering and exchange ideas.
The RCCbc for Inclusion, Social Justice, and Equity (RISE) will host an in-person gathering of current and new members to foster relationships and expand the diversity of perspectives and knowledge by increasing representation of Indigenous peoples, physicians, genders, medical students, and residents’ involvement. They will continue to collaborate with RCCbc projects and programs to champion the application of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action and In Plain Sight recommendations, while supporting the growth of learning journeys.