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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.

“It taught me that the way we do committees could be so much better!  When you care about the people in your group through forged bonds you want to help them achieve their tasks.”
RISE strategic planning participant


2023 Indigenous Medical Education Gathering  

The Indigenous Physicians Network brought together Indigenous students, residents, and physicians and non-Indigenous allies in BC for its fifth Indigenous Medical Education Gathering (IMEG) in March 2023. This annual gathering allows participants to connect with their peers, build a community of practice to address Indigenous health and wellness, while incorporating Indigenous cultural teachings, workshops and activities. The planning committee included partnership representation from RCCbc, UBC Faculty of Medicine – Indigenous Health, FNHA, Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC), and UBC students, residents and physicians. The program incorporated feedback from previous gatherings such as, more time and more Elders to support the circles.

Many voices at IMEG 

IMEG was led and supported by Dr. and Elder Roberta Price and Elder Cheryl Schweizer; keynote speakers Dr. Danièle Behn Smith and Dr. Shannon Waters shared teachings on healing relationships with water; Yvonne Chartrand hosted a dance medicine workshop and there was a trip to the UBC Biodiversity museum; a network panel of peers; and info presentation sessions by Physician Health Program and the Kwiis-Hen-Niip Project. There was also an acknowledgement of the successful achievements in Indigenous physician careers, celebrating Dr. Nel Weinman’s appointment as the Chief Medical Officer at FNHA and Dr. Shannon McDonald’s retirement after many years of dedicated care and service. Over 60 participants attended the mentorship social night at Skwachàys Lodge, which included a tour of the in-house Indigenous artists’ studio and spent the learner-centred weekend at the First Nations Longhouse at UBC.  

In-person and virtual RISE strategic planning sessions  

We expanded our circle to include more diverse perspectives on the RISE reference group, including an Elder, Indigenous resident, academic and youth, and Core physicians and staff. In April, we started off relationship building over a nourishing meal at Salmon ‘n Bannock and met for strategic planning at the Bill Reid Gallery with 16 participants. The session was opened in a good way by Elder Roberta Price and she held a powerful sharing circle with the group. Shawn and Heather Atleo facilitated a ‘Hopes and Dreams’ session to draw out RISE’s aspirational goals.  

In October, we reconvened the group virtually to continue the discussion on planning and action steps. Some common themes included: embedding the TRC calls to action in projects and frameworks; collating resources; providing training, tools and support; communicate RISE’s work; increase patient voices; need for evaluation on the impact. 

Explore the numbers

60 IMEG Attendees

60 IMEG Attendees

60 people, including two Elders, took part in the 2023 Indigenous Medical Education Gathering.

16 Participants

16 Participants

16 people, including 1 Elder, took part in the RISE strategic planning session in 2023

Plans for the Future

The BC Indigenous Physicians Network’s 2024 Indigenous Medical Education Gathering has been held in community at Tsawwassen First Nation for land-based healing. The group will continue to develop its partner relationships and expand the circle to include Indigenous students and alumni from Health Sciences programs such as midwifery, occupational and physical therapy and audiology.

RISE will continue working with the reference group to draw on their experiences and skills to help advance our work. We also hope to develop and support more resources and interactive sessions to support the network’s learning journeys.

Team Members

Click on a team member to explore which other projects they have contributed to in the past year.

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