2019 Fall Interior Regional Caucus


On October 30, 2019, representatives from the seven Interior Nations came together on Sylix Territory for three days of meaningful discussion and updates around a number of health related topics at the Interior Region Caucus. 

The opening ceremony was 'Interior Nations Circle of Strength: Celebration of Our Nations' and focused on our Captikwl stories 

Opening remarks for day one were provided by caucus Co-Chairs, Allan Louis of the Sylix Nation and Charlene Belleau of the Secwepemc Nation. Day 1 saw updates from the Interior Region Nation Executive, the Regional Executive Director, Interior Health, the First Nations Heath Council, Indigenous Services Canada, Emergency Management B.C. and the Acting Chief Executive Officer for the First Nations Health Authority, Richard Jock. Presentations included Jordan's Principal, Regionalization, Emergency Management Legislation, Regional Health and Wellness plans and Primary Care. Delegates were given opportunities to engage in dialogue and ask questions of all presenters. 

Day one ended with the First Nations Health Council election. Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation, Charlene Belleau of the Secwepmc Nation and Ko'waintco MIchel of the Nlaka'pamux Nation were the elected candidates, each serving a term of two years. 

Day two focused on updates directly related to the work being undertaken by the First Nations Health Authority Interior Region team in partnership with the Interior Nations and communities. Topics discussed included Regional Health & Wellness Plans, Primary Care and the transition to Pacific Blue Cross for First Nations Health Benefits. In the afternoon, a panel and dialogue session on Mental Health, Opioid Response and Cannabis and vaping was held with Dr. Evan Adams, Dr. Shannon McDonald and Katie Hughes from the First Nations Health Authority. 

Day three featured updates from representatives from the First Nations Health Directors Association and included an update on the Indigenous Cancer Strategy from Lisa Montgomery-Reid, Regional Executive Director and Pamela Crema, Regional Nurse Manager from the First Nations Heath Authority. The afternoon consisted of Conflict Resolution training sessions by Keiron Simons from Capilano University.

While the three days of caucus were very busy with important news and updates, it was not all business. As the seven Nations were gathered together over the three days, a number of exceptional people were honored for their work in their Nations and communities. On day one, Interior Region Nation Executive Member Loretta Williams has honored for her tireless and dedicated work as a member of the Interior Region Nation Executive. Loretta’s presence will be missed. 


Day two began with an honoring of Rita Manuel.  Rita was the first female and the first Indigenous graduate of BCIT’s Environmental Public Health program in 1969. Since that time, Rita has worked for Health Canada as well as supported environmental public health initiatives in the Sylix, Nlaka’pamux and St’at’imc Nations. With over her 50 years of public health service, Rita’s commitment and dedication has not waivered. Rita has been and continues to be a mentor and source of knowledge and inspiration to many.

The Interior Region Caucus was attended by 203 participants representing 54 communities from the interior. There were 11 partner organizations who participated including Interior Health, The Red Cross and Indigenous Services Canada. 64 staff members from the First Nations Health Authority and the First Nations Health Council supported the event.

Caucus Co-Chair Charlene Belleau summed up the three days , “This work really is Nation-based and community-driven. I think there’s a lot of important issues and to me to Interior is at the leading edge of a lot of work not just within First Nations Health Authority but also with Interior Health as we talk about Primary Care, Elder Care Enhancement and other initiatives that the communities are driving. The Interior nations are very active within their own health frameworks. Events like this bring us together to share our successes and to talk about the challenges we face but also to think about what we might want to do in the future to improve the work we already do.”
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