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Addressing Indigenous-specific racism


Nov 30, 2020

​BCCNM commits to addressing Indigenous-specific racism within the healthcare system

On Monday, November 30, the Ministry of Health released the findings from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in B.C.’s healthcare system. It is deeply disturbing to contemplate the extent to which Indigenous-specific racism has been embedded in the healthcare system and its devastating impact on health outcomes for Indigenous people. But we must confront it head on if we are to break this destructive cycle and create a healthcare system in which everyone can receive culturally safe, person-centred care.

BCCNM’s mandate is to protect the public through the regulation of nurses and midwives. Within this context, we have a unique opportunity to influence the professions we regulate, as well as the broader healthcare system. We will carefully review Ms. Turpel-Lafond’s report; we are committed to implementing her recommendations, in consultation with our partners and in accordance with the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act.

Where we are today

BCCNM is a signatory to the Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility, signed by all health profession regulators, the Ministry of Health, and the First Nations Health Authority in March 2017. Over the past several years, we have been on a journey to learn the truth about the experiences of BC First Nations and other Indigenous people living in B.C. and to take appropriate and meaningful action to reconcile past atrocities.

We have taken steps to integrate the principles of cultural safety and humility into our organizational culture, our brand, as well as our strategic and operational plans. We have encouraged registrants, staff, Board, and committee members to undertake cultural safety training. We have also begun the work to embed the voice of First Nations people into our governance structures and have engaged a First Nations Knowledge Keeper to be a guide and resource to our Board and staff.

In addition, we are supporting the First Nations Health Authority’s efforts to paint a broader picture of the number of Indigenous people practising as registered healthcare professionals. During the annual registration renewal period, nurse and midwife registrants have the option to self-identify as First Nations, Métis, or Inuk (Inuit). The aggregate data is shared with FNHA.

Where we are going

While we are proud of the actions taken thus far, there is an immediate need to do more. Indigenous people have a right to receive to receive care that is culturally safe, free of racism and that leads to positive health outcomes. BCCNM has prioritized the following actions, which we will implement in alignment with Ms. Turpel’s report:

  • We are drafting a professional standard for nurses and midwives that explicitly addresses the requirement of culturally safe, humble, and responsive professional practice and how practitioners will be held accountable for upholding this standard.
  • We are looking at our complaints process to identify ways to make it more accessible, meaningful, safe, and effective for Indigenous people.
  • We will continue the work initiated by the former College of Midwives of B.C. to establish a new registrant category for Indigenous Midwifery.
  • We will create the space and budget for all staff, Board and committee members to complete training and education in cultural safety and humility, unconscious bias and/or trauma informed care by the end of 2021.
  • We will work to consistently apply the lens of cultural safety and humility to our decision-making. We will do this by broadening Indigenous participation on BCCNM’s Board and committees, and by investing in supports to ensure that Indigenous people do not feel isolated or unsafe when engaging in this work.
  • We will work with advisors to develop a strategy and approach for engaging BC First Nations and other Indigenous peoples in our regulatory work.
  • We will collaborate with our fellow regulators and the Ministry of Health to support legislative reform that integrates cultural safety and humility into our health regulatory framework.

What you can expect from us

We recognize that Indigenous people may need specific and supportive services that differ from others’ needs. We are committed to providing culturally safe environments for any individual contacting and working with our College. Taking a different approach to meeting their unique needs creates equity for those who are among the most vulnerable in our society due to their past experiences. Above all, we aim to develop and maintain processes and relationships that are grounded in mutual respect and trust.

We want to hear from you

While we believe that the commitments we have made will help to dismantle the systemic racism that exists in our healthcare system, we recognize that on their own, they are not enough. To be better, we need to do better. And to do better, we need to hear from you.

Your feedback and your ideas help shape our organization. Please let us know what you think and how we can change to better serve people in our communities and province. Also, please return regularly to our website – we will share our progress in making the culturally safe and humble care of Indigenous people a priority for nurses and midwives across our province.