A BC First Nations Case Study Reflection
Trigger Warning: The content in this case study reflection is distressing and may trigger unpleasant feelings and memories of negative experiences. Those who require emotional support can contact the 24-Hour KUU-US Crisis Line at 1-800-588-8717.
Keegan Combes of Skwah First Nation was a high school graduate, a grade 10 pianist and a chess champion enrolled in a trades college at the time of his death. Keegan also lived with disabilities, and was non-verbal by choice. He passed away on September 26, 2015, from a delayed diagnosis following an accidental poisoning. He was 29 years old. He is remembered, missed and loved.
First Nations have a deeply rooted culture and tradition of storytelling as one of the ways of passing on knowledge. Storytelling is a traditional method used to teach about cultural beliefs, values, customs, rituals, history, practices, relationships and ways of life. First Nations storytelling is a foundation for wholistic learning, relationship building and experiential learning.
This case study reflection can help health professionals learn from and reflect on personal and systemic biases that shape their practice. It can also help them engage in conversations to create safer health care environments and experiences for First Nations and Indigenous people, so that what happened to Keegan never happens to others.
For so long, First Nations experiences of racism in BC’s health system have been unacknowledged, dismissed and silenced. As a health organization created by BC First Nations, for First Nations who are living in BC, the FNHA has a role to honour First Nations truths and lived experiences in the face of over a hundred years of history, in which First Nations voices and experiences have been denied.
Supported by the teachings in Cultural Safety and Humility, this case study reflection captures the truth and protects the family from having to retell a very difficult story. It supports the family’s ability to move forward, knowing the system will continue to learn and do better by learning from their experiences. These experiences were captured in partnership and approved by the family to reduce any misleading interpretations of their experience and truth
The Remembering Keegan: a BC First Nations Case Study Reflection was publicly released and gifted in ceremony on Keegan’s birthday, Monday, February 21, 2022.
This BC First Nations case study reflection is the first of its kind shared by BC First Nations and will help shape the Cultural Safety and quality of care for all Indigenous people in BC and across the country.
This Case Study Reflection is an ongoing gift from Keegan to leaders of the BC health system. They are are strongly encouraged to take the lead in the system-wide education and actions that are required to make the recommended changes.
Healing Hands of Friendship, the artwork created to honour Keegan, by Khut Whee Mul Uhk (Dr. Francis Horne Sr.)
Keegan brought together Stó:lō and Coast Salish leaders to transform the health system from a sickness model to a wellness model of care. He is a transformer stone for the region.
Telling Keegan’s story is important as a way to bear witness, document culturally unsafe encounters within the health care system and contribute to changing the system to prevent similar deaths or harm in the future. Keegan’s legacy has been to help shape the Cultural Safety and Humility transformation that is currently underway in BC’s health system.
The FNHC, FNHDA and FNHA and recognize the importance of enhancing access to culturally safe, quality health care that affirms First Nations cultures, rights and identities, in tandem with addressing systemic racism in the health care system.
If you have a compliment or complaint, please contact the FNHA Quality Care and Safety office:
Phone (toll-free): 1-844-935-1044
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