Musqueam Territory—Indigenous and health care leaders from across the province gathered Tuesday on Musqueam lands to honour and recognize four years of hard work and collaboration that went into the creation of British Columbia's (BC) first-ever Cultural Safety and Humility Standard, funded by Health Canada, and developed in partnership with the Health Standards Organization.
Developed by a First Nations Technical Committee with input from Métis Nation BC, the document will lead the way in designing, evaluating, and implementing culturally safe systems and services across all health care organizations in the province. The Technical Committee received 1,100 comments during the public review process, which were reviewed and incorporated into the final version published in June of this year.
The new Standard is a significant step forward in addressing systemic anti-Indigenous racism in the health care system. It will lead to work in other provinces and nationally, including health authorities, health regulatory bodies, health organizations, health facilities, patient care quality review boards, and health education programs in BC, to adopt an accreditation standard for achieving Indigenous cultural safety through cultural humility and eliminating Indigenous-specific racism. There also has been significant development of practice standards by key provincial health partners.
Prior to the formal event, a private circle provided members of the Technical Committee with an opportunity to reflect back on the four years it took to create the Standard.
Led by Elder Dickie Louis of Musqueam Nation, the ceremony included blanketing, cedar brushing, words shared by health leaders, and witnesses of the ceremony.
Coming together in ceremony was important to honour those who engaged in the work, give closure to the first phase of the standard, and open the door to the next phases, which includes developing the tools to assess organizations against the standard, and to promote adoption of the standard provincially, and potentially beyond.
The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) would like to recognize the Technical Committee co-chairs, Dr. Nel Wieman, FNHA Deputy Chief Medical Officer, and Elder Gerry Oleman of the St'at'imc Nation for their excellent stewardship in bringing this important work forward.
Dr. Nel Wieman, Deputy CMO, FNHA
“The Cultural Safety and Humility Technical Committee was Indigenous-led, and used a mixed methodology including embedding the work in culture and protocol. This standard is a significant step toward making the health system safer for First Nations patients. British Columbia's health and social services must now work to adopt the standard, and be held accountable against it. Thanks to all the Technical Committee members for the incredible amount of work that went into developing the standard."
Monica McAlduff, CNO, FNHA
“The Cultural Safety and Humility Standard is pivotal because it sets an expectation for health organizations that will address the challenges and gaps that have existed for Indigenous people. It is for Health organizations that will support Indigenous people on their wellness journey. This is reason to celebrate and honour all the good work that came together to make this a reality."
Richard Jock, CEO, FNHA
“We have come to know that racism is a determinant in health, and that those who experience racism receive worse health outcomes. I am grateful to the many First Nations people in BC who bravely came forward to tell their stories and inform the work to eliminate racism in the health care system. This Cultural Safety and Humility Standard is based on rigorous research and thoughtful consideration over years of hard work and I look forward to seeing it put in action to create a safer system for all."
Colleen Erickson, Chair, FNHA
“On behalf of the Board, I was pleased to be part of the ceremony and to celebrate this important milestone. I look forward to the work to come, and in working with all of our partners to eliminate racism in the health system."