Joint Report on First Nations Health and Wellness Is Now Available



A groundbreaking joint report from the Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the Office of the Chief Medical Officer is now available.

Titled First Nations Population Health and Wellness Agenda (PHWA), it is the fruit of a unique and multi-year partnership between the province and the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA), providing an eagle-eye view of the health and wellness of First Nations people living throughout BC.

“The PHWA is much more than just a health status report," explains Acting Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shannon McDonald. “It is an act of self-determination. First Nations are controlling our own data and telling our own story in a way that reflects our strengths and resilience."

A report released by the pr​ovincial government in November, 2020, indicates that systemic racism continues to be a barrier to health care access for First Nations people in BC.

Dr. Bonnie Henry, BC's Provincial Health Officer, said “I am honoured to be working with the First Nations Health Authority and to be disrupting the status quo of population health reporting."

Dr. Danièle Behn Smith is Eh Cho Dene of the Fort Nelson First Nation with French Canadian/Métis roots in the Red River Valley, and Deputy Provincial Health Officer of Indigenous Health.

“These systems must become free of racism and discrimination in order for our children, families, and communities to be healthy, vibrant, and self-determining," said Dr. Behn Smith.

By using a strengths-based approach to focus on wellness and resilience, the report formulates two-eyed seeing to bring together both First Nations and Western ways of knowing.

At its core, the PHWA recognizes that self-determination, culture, language, and connection to land are deeply interconnected and form the roots of First Nations health and wellness.

Determinants of health and structures—such as housing, education, food, and health care—are systemic roots that play an important role in the health and wellness of First Nations.

Highlights of the report include:

  • High and increasing levels of cultural wellness among First Nations adults.
  • Steady increases in Indigenous student graduations and the development of supportive educational environments for First Nations students.
  • Small but meaningful improvements in housing.
  • Growing awareness of cultural safety and access to health services.
  • Increased dental health of Indigenous children.
  • Declining smoking rates of commercial tobacco for First Nations youth and adults.

The report outlines an expanded suite of 22 specific health indicators—including the seven which were outlined in the 2006 Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan—that will be monitored over the next 10 years. Updates to the data in this report will be delivered on an intermittent basis over that time period.

You can access the report, along with other publications from the Office of the Chief Medical Officer, at​ 

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