Statement of Solidarity with Peaceful Protests against Racism and Police Brutality in Canada and the US




A message from: M. Colleen Erickson, FNHA Board Chair; Charlene Belleau, FNHC Board Chair; Keith Marshall, FNHDA President; Richard Jock, FNHA interim CEO​

It is with great sorrow that we acknowledge recent tragic events involving racism, police brutality, and the senseless deaths of Indigenous and Black people in Canada and the US. The most recent death occurred just last week: ​police shot and killed 26-year-old Chantel Moore of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation near Tofino, BC, at her home in New Brunswick.

Our deepest sympathies go out to Chantel's family. Chantel's life mattered, as did George Floyd's life and the lives of the many other Indigenous and Black people killed by the police.

As Indigenous people, we empathize with all other groups subjected to extreme racism and police violence, and we stand in solidarity with them. We know that their and our lives matter. We are well aware that the ongoing grave injustices of racism and police brutality disproportionately impact Indigenous, Black and other people of colour in both Canada and the US. Findings from Canada's National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls detail the systemic racism affecting Indigenous peoples.

Major change is necessary, and justice is long overdue. We call for independent investigations into all such incidents as well as action to address them in the future. 

The inequitable and brutal treatment of Indigenous and Black people –- and all people of colour –- must stop. The legacy of systemic, institutional racism – including within the justice system and the healthcare system -- must be confronted if we are to end the injustices that still persist, and achieve a more just society.

Our roles as the FNHA, FNHC, and FNHDA.  Every day we work to raise Indigenous voices in the journey to self-determine our health and wellness. As both public health and Indigenous leaders, we understand that hate-based violence and systemic racism are detrimental to our collective health. We understand that racism and police violence have profound and long-term impacts on stress, mental health, and other social determinants of health. Inequities in health and wellness are the result of a historical failure to build equity and inclusion.

We also believe it is important to reject racism in all forms against all peoples, including the recent examples from the BC media about the marked increase in hate crimes, racism, and discrimination against people of Asian or Middle Eastern origins during the pandemic. We declare our solidary with them as well.

As Canada's only First Nation health authority, our strength is grounded in our collective sense of wellbeing and our First Nations perspective on health and wellness. Every part of BC's First Nations health governance structure – the FNHA, FNHC and FNHDA – is committed to transforming the healthcare system to ensure cultural safety and humility – i.e., non-racist, respectful, equal treatment – for First Nations people.

Stay safe while protesting. The recent events and protests have happened In the midst of the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. BC's Public Health Officer, Dr. Bonny Henry, continues to remind us all about the vital importance of protecting ourselves and others during the pandemic. We support Dr. Henry's guidance that while it is important for people to stand against hate, it is also important to protect BC's vulnerable populations from the COVID-19 virus. We join her in asking those who choose to demonstrate to do so safely by physically distancing and wearing masks, as well as limiting gatherings to no more than 50 people where possible.

We know that Indigenous communities are following critical public health advice while drawing upon our culture and traditions to sustain them during the COVID-19 pandemic. We encourage you to continue to draw strength from our beautiful, powerful culture and spirituality during this time as we work together to ensure cultural safety and humility in the healthcare system and to make positive social change in the world.

If you are distressed or have been triggered by the traumatic events of the past weeks, click on this link for mental health and cultural supports and resources available to you.

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