A federal investment in an education program will seek to help stamp out incidents of anti-Indigenous racism in health care and help health professionals better serve Indigenous communities across the country.
The National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health (NCCIH) and the Health Arts Research Centre (HARC), both housed at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), are receiving new funds to support health care professionals to address anti-Indigenous racism, practise in anti-oppressive ways, and foster cultural humility.
The Indigenous Services Canada investment will represent $1 million over two years, starting in 2022.
The Hearts-based Education and Anticolonial Learning (HEAL) health care project, which is a joint initiative between the NCCIH and HARC, is anchored in training and education focused on health-care students and professionals to create better health outcomes for Indigenous people.
The two-year project will promote cultural safety and recognize Indigenous knowledge and anti-colonial approaches in health service provision—central to achieving the goal of eliminating anti-Indigenous racism in health systems.
One of the leaders of the academic programs that will receive funding said transformational change requires helping to change preconceived notions and prejudices.
“We need to remember that achieving optimal health has always involved both the arts and sciences, said University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) professor Dr. Sarah de Leeuw. “We need to remember that transformational change, including much-needed anti-colonial change in health care, requires shifts in both feelings and thoughts. It's about head and heart work. We're excited to put arts and humanities to work in the service of cultural humility and anti-oppression."
The director of the National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health said they were “proud” to be part of the project.
"The National Collaborating Centre for Indigenous Health is proud to be partnering in this absolutely critical work with and for Indigenous Peoples in Canada and beyond,” said Dr. Margo Greenwood. “The initiative takes a strength-based approach and creates a safe learning environment for all. The goal is to realize transformation and change in the health care system that supports everyone's optimal health and well-being."
The federal government has made a priority of eliminating the kind of anti-Indigenous racism in health institutions a priority, given the level of distrust many Indigenous people have of non-Indigenous institutions.
“I congratulate the National Collaborating Centre and the University of Northern British Columbia for their important work to make health care safer for Indigenous Peoples,” said federal Indigenous Services minister Patty Hajdu. “The Hearts-based Education and Anticolonial Learning (HEAL) project will train health care professionals to recognize and end racism and discrimination in health systems. This critical work will hopefully inspire other organizations across the country and spur faster changes that result in compassionate and competent care for Indigenous Peoples in all health care systems across Canada."
Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase