First Nations Health & Wellness Summit 2024: Restoring wholistic wellness to First Nations in British Columbia


​​​The 2024 First Nations Health & Wellness Summit brought together hundreds of attendees over three days in Vancouver


The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) played host to more than 500 attendees at the First Nations Health & Wellness Summit, held May 7-9 on the traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓ əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱ wu7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh​) Nations.

The primary areas of focus for this year's Summit included:

  • The social determinants of health,
  • The toxic drug response, and
  • Mental health, wellness and healing.​

The event featured a series of keynote speakers, breakout sessions and interactive discussions throughout the three days, with the overarching goal of restoring wholistic wellness to First Nations in British Columbia.

Representatives from communities and organizations who support First Nations can take what they learned and adapt ideas and concepts to meet the unique needs of their communities. Throughout the event, participants were invited to share feedback with the FNHA that will further support planning and engagement in the future. 

The full 2024 ​Summit program ​can be found here​.

News articles

View news stories about the 2024 Summit here: 

Event Highlights

Day 1


Dr. Nel Wieman and Duanna Johnston-Virgo kicked off the 2024 First Nations Health & Wellness Summit, with opening remarks from FNHA Board Chair Dr. Sheila Blackstock and Keith Marshall, Board President of the First Nations Health Directors Association.


One of the first breakout sessions, hosted by Paul Miller, Pratyush Dhawan and Maya Molander from FNHA, focused on “Applying a Social Determinants of Health lens to community planning." The interactive breakout session included engaging discussions on how to apply a First Nations view on the social determinants of health to all types of community plans.


Another breakout session was hosted by Brenda Pike, Skwah First Nation Knowledge Holder, and Kathleen Yung, FNHA Healthy Eating and Food Security Specialist. Entitled “Indigenous Foods and Practices: Living and Learning throughout the life cycle," the pair discussed how food preservation and tea blending can be a vital way of sharing cultural knowledge, wise practices and stories. The interactive session finished with participants mixing their own tea blends, with expert guidance from Brenda and her daughter Emma.


After lunch, Fran Hunt-Jinnouchi, Executive Director of the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness Society, delivered her keynote speech on culturally supportive housing. Fran shared the Dual Model of Housing Care, implemented in Victoria, which incorporates culturally supportive housing and decolonized harm reduction. She also talked about how the organization's programs and services, which are deeply rooted in land-based healing, are improving the health and wellness of First Nations people in downtown Victoria. 

Day 2


To begin day two, after the opening prayer and remarks, BC's former chief coroner Lisa Lapointe was blanketed and honoured for her work supporting First Nations communities and people across the province. Witnesses shared personal stories about the powerful impact Lisa has made, emphasizing her compassion, dignity and advocacy for those who have lost loved ones to the toxic drug emergency.

“I felt that it was so important for us as an organization to hold up someone who is the best sort of ally," said FNHA Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nel Wieman.


The afternoon keynote speaker was Jacki McPherson, health manager of the Penticton Indian Band, who spoke about the newly-opened Snxastwilxtn Recovery House. The facility takes a wholistic wellness approach to substance use with supplementary programming around healthy eating, exercise, housing, and more. “We welcome everyone, no matter where you are on your journey," said Jacki. ​


“Land as Healer" was one of the afternoon breakout sessions, which focused on land as a modality for healing trauma and loss, and showcased the off-the-grid Unist'ot'en Healing Centre located on Wet'suwet'en territory. The FNHA's Carla Lewis moderated the discussion with Dr. Carla Tait,  Oyate Kin Ekta Kigla Win Tait, Abraham Ramirez, Freda Huson, Brenda Michell and Wet'suwet'en youth Savannah Prince.

Day 3


On the final morning of the Summit, youth delegates were honoured with a brushing ceremony and some special words from George Jeffrey and Don Beacham, cultural support workers from Tsow-Tun Le Lum Society.

“They're not behind us, we're behind them, pushing them forward," said George, speaking to the importance of learning from the leadership and wisdom of our youth.

Over the course of the Summit, youth delegates connected, learned and shared their voices. They also had the opportunity to explore Vancouver with guided activities including a seawall scooter tour, a visit to Stanley Park, and a trip to the UBC Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre.


To finish off the event, we heard from the Honourable Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, who spoke about the work being done in collaboration with FNHA to tackle the toxic drug public health emergency. 


​Presentation slides from the 2024 Summit that are available for download can be accessed via the links below. 

Day 1

Day 2
Day 3

Event Proceedings

The PDF of the event proceedings can be found here​.

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