Wholistic Integrated Continuum of Care


​​​​​​​Overview • Bringing Care Closer to Home • Community Inspired Strategies and Solutions • The Path Forward​ • Join the Indigenous Wellness Advisory Group


Wholistic Integrated Continuum of Care (WICC) is focused on developing better systems and relationships for bringing care closer to home. Our vision comes directly from community engagement; we are listening and want to learn more from First Nations people in BC.

In 2022, the WICC team engaged with First Nations communities in BC on gaps in long-term and continuing care. The intention of the engagement was to learn if current community health systems are working and if not, what would improve the system.

The goal of engagement was to better understand future care needs and priorities across the lifespan. The documented learnings from this engagement were then validated across the province.

For more details on the engagement, see the news story​ and reports:

​​Listen to the messag​​e from cultural and language Knowledge K​eepers Jo-Anne Gottfriedson of Tk̓emlúps te Secwépemc and Shirley David of Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en as they explain what wholistic integrated continuum of care means to them and their families living in BC. 


  • Knowledge Keepers

Jo-Anne Gottfriedson.png
Weytk ren skwest es Kiye’y7e Qwisp Nu’xwenxw ell

Jo-Anne Gottfriedson Tk’emlu’psemc te Secwepemc

I am extremely proud to be Tk’emlu’psemc. I am a proud mother of two daughters, a traditionally adopted son, and a grandmother of five grandsons and a beautiful granddaughter; I also have five step children and many adopted children, grandchildren from various Nations across the country and U.S. I am married to Reverend James Isbister from the Cree Nation, Ahtahakakoop Sandy Lake, Saskatchewan.

Formally educated at Simon Fraser University (BGS and Post Baccalaureate Programs graduate), Certified Provincial Adult Instructor/Teacher- I am a member in good standing with the BC College of Teachers-BC Adult Instructor Certified, Language Proficiency Diploma SFU.

I credit my ‘traditional’ education to the persistence and commitment of my parents, grandparents and various other elders/teachers that I have met along my journey. My accomplishment and work are testimony to my belief that formal education compliments ‘traditional’ education, and that the traditions, beliefs, teaching and language of our ancestors is just as, or more important than any other education First Nations can achieve.  

I believe in the traditional approach to teaching, which is holistic, and combines both traditional and modern approaches to passing on the language and culture. My commitment and respect for my culture and traditions is of the utmost importance in all aspects of my life, and I am proud of my family support and commitment to maintaining this along with me; as I not only teach it, but live it with my family, community and nation.

Hi, my name is Shirley David, and I am Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en. I hold a Masters of Indigenous Social Work (MISW), and a Bachelor of Indigenous Social Work (BISW), in addition to being an Addictions Counselor, an Aboriginal Life Skills Facilitator and having my Aboriginal Trauma Certificate.

I work for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society as a Resolution Health Support Worker (RHSW) and Aboriginal Therapist. I regularly counsel residential school survivors, their families or intergenerational survivors. ​

Family is vital to me, and having a wellness plan and keeping all aspects of my life in balance is something I value and prioritize in my wellness plan. I like to promote wellness and am an active participant in my community. I am a Pow Wow Traditional Dancer. My favourite activity is walking. I attend and participate in Spiritual and Traditional Ceremonies and Gatherings near me. In my spare time, I like to bead and sew. 

“When we can get past the darkness, our journey to recovery and healing become a little easier.” – Shirley David 

Dr. Garry Gottfriedson, Secwépemc knowledge holder, poet, and cultural leader, advocates for language preservation, education and the arts. Speaker in Secwepemctsin and Cree languages, he combines land-based teaching with creative writing. Born into a ranching family in Kamloops, BC, Dr. Gottfriedson holds an MA in education from Simon Fraser University and has studied creative writing at the Naropa Institute. His works include Clinging to Bone (2019), Chaos Inside Thunderstorms (2014), Skin Like Mine (2010), Whiskey Bullets (2006), Glass Tepee (2002), In Honor of Our Grandmothers: Imprints of Cultural Survival (1994), 100 Years of Contact (1990), and the children's book Painted Pony (2005).

Bringing Care Closer to Home

There were four main findings we heard about bringing care closer to home.

Equity = Riverbed

The riverbed represents equity and is the foundation for health and wellness. The riverbed is essential to contain the river, the life within the river and the canoe. The riverbed represents basic human needs or social determinants of health. We heard that housing, food, money to pay bills and transportation were generally insufficient yet foundational to health and wellness. 

Investment = Water

Water represents investment. The smaller the amount of water in the riverbed, the more restricted and difficult the journey. We heard that many communities are frustrated by the small, disconnected inaccessible puddles and that there is more opportunity in a river full of water.

Capacity = Ca​​noe

The canoe, paddlers and paddles reflects the community strengths. The canoe is important to transform funding into positive outcomes. In the canoe, there is representation of life from womb to spirit. All members are​​ valued on the wellness journey. 

Paddles represent the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical aspects of the wellness journey. How members are able to move these paddles and canoe through the water is affected by the environment, wind and currents.

Connections = Environment, Wind, Rocks and Currents

The environment, win​d, rocks and currents represent connections outside the community and how these impact the canoe to move forward easily or with challenges. Rocks represent racism within the health care system.

This component was added during validation (phase two) as many disturbing experiences were shared. Hitting a rock can stop the wellness journey in the same way that accessing unsafe care results in no care being accessed. ​

Where communities described strong connections with their regional health authority and other nonprofit organizations, the system supported pathways towards seamless, culturally safe and accessible care. ​​​

Community Inspired Strate​​gies and Solutions​

The inner circle depicts the individual / family on their wellness journey from womb to spirit wrapped in the strong value of care close to home. The second circle surrounds the individual / family with four guiding objectives to support care close to home. Th​e outer ring of paddles indicate how partner collaboration is essential to provide appropriate and accessible health programs and services.​


First Nations people and communities clearly expressed that wholistic care includes bringing care closer to home. During validation we heard more about:

  • Anti-​​Indigenous racism in health care
  • Greater financial costs for rural and remote communities
  • Gaps in staff retention related to inequities of salaries across the health sectors
  • No housing for health staff in isolated communities​​

The Path Forw​ard

The path forward includes more discussions to determine what wholistic and inclusive care closer to home looks like in First Nations communities across BC, including Caregiver Support, Transitions in Care, home health policy, Wholistic Wellness Centres, and 2SLGBTQQIA support. 

1. Family Caregivers in BC First Nations communities​

Healthy family caregivers are necessary to keep people at home. How best to support family caregivers - emotionally, spiritually, financially, educationally, mentally and physically?

2. BC Ministry of Health draft Home Health policy

​BC Ministry of Health, with engagement from BC First Nations, is developing a draft home care policy. Together, we need to build relationships and set the table for both community and health authorities to experience success.  

3. Transitions in care
Relationships and pathways are essential to support access and seamless care, so that when care is needed outside of the community, the length of time is as brief as possible. We need to hear what relationships and pathways would make the difference to get you home sooner and stay home lo​nger. 

4. Wholistic wellness centers 

We heard the need for a multi-use building for short term support, no matter the age or reason. We want to learn more about what services would support care closer to home in a multi-use building. 

5. 2SLGBTQQIA+​ care 

People who are two spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or gender expansive, queer and/or questioning, inte​​rsex and asexual are members of every community and have rights to access health services. How can we support inclusivity in accessing care closer to home for people who identify as 2SLGBTQQIA+? How accessible is gender affirming care and what supports would keep people home?​

Indigenous Wellness Advisory Group ​​

Are you passionate about community well-being and wholistic care? 

The WICC team is looking for your support. ​​Continued engagement with people from First Nations in BC remains the foundation of our work moving forward. We value your feedback and your input is important to us, please take a moment to register here​ or see the poster for more information. 

For any comments or feedback, please see WICC's contact information​.
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