The Rural Site Visits team travels to all Rural Subsidiary Agreement communities in British Columbia to meet with community partners to develop relationships and learn about their successes, innovations and challenges around rural healthcare delivery. The team uses this information to amplify the rural voice to health policymakers and share stories of ingenuity.
“When I asked [an Elder and Uustukyuu knowledge keeper] how do we build understanding of communities, knowledge, and healing practices his response was ‘you’re here aren't you? We don’t get enough outsiders who make the travel and travel in the boat to be here in the circle with us.’ Then he stood up and extended his hand to me and we shook hands. Something that can only be done in person.”
Secured approval to use a Two-Eyed Seeing approach to working
To meaningfully approach visits to First Nations communities, the Rural Site Visits team have been actively adapting their research methodology to include more Indigenous ways of thinking, knowing, and being by utilizing a Two-Eyed Seeing approach.
Two-Eyed Seeing is a concept by Mi’kmaw Elder Albert Marshall of the Eskasoni First Nation applied in a Western setting. It refers to learning to see from one eye with the strengths of Indigenous knowledges and ways of knowing, and the other eye with the strengths of Western knowledges and ways of knowing, and to use both eyes together for the benefit of all.
During 2022-23, the team’s amendment to formally include this approach in their work was officially approved by the University of British Columbia Board of Ethics, which includes all Health Authorities and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA).
By adopting this approach, the team has learnt to be more mindful of engagement and facilitation practices to ensure these practices are physically, emotionally, and culturally safe. So far, the approach has been well received by communities during site visits. The team plans to continuously improve their practices by incorporating community feedback throughout the upcoming year.
Created resources to share learnings of Indigenous approaches
In 2021, the Rural Site Visits team worked with an Indigenous Research Consultant from Carrier Sekani Family Services to deliver train-the-trainer modules on the Two-Eyed Seeing approach and best practices for engagement with First Nations communities. This year they collaborated again and created a workshop titled “Working in the Weave: Practical application of a Two-Eyed Seeing approach.”
The workshop was presented at the Towards Unity for Health (TUFH) Conference. TUFH is an international organization that fosters equitable community-oriented health services, education, and research with the goal of improving health locally and globally. Workshop attendees, including health professionals, researchers, and students from around the world, learned about research from an Indigenous context and how to apply engagement and facilitation practices into their own work.
With permission from an Indigenous Research Consultant, the team expanded on this work to create video training modules for Site Visitors and RCCbc staff to learn more about the Two-Eyed Seeing approach. They created pre-recorded video and audio modules that can be accessed anytime. This method of training allows for the possibility of future modules to be created as work continues to improve knowledge and practices across the team.
Deepened relationships with partners
Relationships and trust are the foundations for the work carried out by the Rural Site Visits team. Through vulnerability, connection before content, and sharing stories, the team created new relationships and deepened existing partnerships throughout 2022-23.
These relationships have led to more fulsome visits. The team have worked closely with FNHA ensuring Community Engagement Coordinators are notified before reaching out to communities for a visit. Understanding the local context has helped immensely in planning as they are now able to learn about the community’s calendar and how to connect with key contacts. The team have worked to deepen relationships with the various Divisions of Family Practice and Medical Staff Associations by checking in before each visit and inviting representatives to meetings and as guests on other visits. This has led to tangible solutions for some of the challenges that communities are facing as well as added meaningful local context.
Alongside this progress, the team have strengthened relationships with RCCbc staff members and Core members by sharing more about the project and listening to how best to engage with communities. None of this work would be possible without building trust and fostering each of these relationships. In the upcoming year the team hopes to proceed with more vulnerability and humility as they further build valuable relationships.
Explore the Numbers
13 Communities Visited
During 2022-23, the Rural Site Visits team visited 13 individual communities in total, covering 10 RSA communities.
412 + Meetings
Since the project's launch, the Rural Sites Visits team have met with over 412 partner groups and local community members.
146 Total Communities
To date, the Rural Site Visits team have visited 146 individual communities, across 121 RSA communities.
Plans for the Future
With any work it is important to reflect, learn, and continuously grow. For the Rural Site Visits team, they are mindful to continuously evaluate how best to carry out their work without overburdening communities. The journey of the Two-Eyed Seeing approach is a testament to their commitment to learn from those in community.
In the upcoming year, they plan to continue adapting their work while learning best practices for engagement and facilitation. A key topic of exploration with be around how to enhance knowledge translation, with a focus on storytelling to highlight the successes and challenges in rural health. The team also have plans to train new Site Visitors and continue inviting more RCCbc team members to be involved in their work.
A new stream of funding will also be available for Indigenous engagement, and the team is exploring further opportunities to strengthen networks and facilitate provincial conversations about rural maternity care.
Lead, Rural Site Visits | Lead, Communications
Project Coordinator, Rural Site Visits
Senior Project Coordinator
Administrative Assistant, Rural Research
Administrative Assistant, Rural Research
Indigenous Research Consultant