The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognizes the shameful history, ongoing trauma, and legacy of colonization. Our history of colonization includes the Indian Act, residential schools, unmarked graves and missing children, the generational impact on the families left behind and the survivors of these institutions, the 60’s scoop, and loss of language and culture, to name but a few.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is Saturday, September 30, 2023.
The NOHT-ÉSON is marking the day by highlighting the calls to action under Health from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Final Report and the NOHT-ÉSON’s efforts to address these specific seven calls to action. Not all calls to action have been undertaken thus far, and there is still much work to do in furthering the reconciliation process.
The NOHT-ÉSON is committed to increasing Indigenous voices and presence at the Planning Table and its many working groups, actively building collaborative, community-engaged partnerships, and supporting its partner organizations to be leaders in de-colonizing health and social service practices.
18. We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the health care rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.
Since its inception in 2019, the NOHT-ÉSON has identified Indigenous peoples as a priority population in its work. It is of the utmost importance to ensure that Indigenous peoples have timely access to the care they choose, be it Western or Indigenous traditional medicine, and receive their care through practices grounded in identity-affirming approaches and cultural humility. The NOHT-ÉSON has made it a priority to build and strengthen trusting relationships with Indigenous peoples in Niagara.
19. We call upon the federal government, in consultation with Aboriginal peoples, to establish measurable goals to identify and close the gaps in health outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, and to publish annual progress reports and assess long term trends. Such efforts would focus on indicators such as: infant mortality, maternal health, suicide, mental health, addictions, life expectancy, birth rates, infant and child health issues, chronic diseases, illness and injury incidence, and the availability of appropriate health services.
In consultation with Indigenous health and social service providers and the community, the NOHT-ÉSON continues to work on its Measuring Health Equity Project that will inform the transformation of services by listening to the voices of Indigenous peoples and how the health care system is experienced in Niagara. By developing a set of standard demographic questions to be collected, ideally, by all service providers, the NOHT-ÉSON aims to establish baseline demographic information. It can then identify gaps and improve the health care experience of Indigenous peoples.
20. In order to address the jurisdictional disputes concerning Aboriginal people who do not reside on reserves, we call upon the federal government to recognize, respect, and address the distinct health needs of the Métis, Inuit, and off-reserve Aboriginal peoples.
21. We call upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new Aboriginal healing centres to address the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual harms caused by residential schools, and to ensure that the funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories is a priority.
The NOHT-ÉSON has supported the creation of a Manager of Indigenous Healthcare Relations position in partnership with the Fort Erie Native Friendship Centre. The central focus of the role is service/care planning, design, and the advancement of changes that will improve the care and experiences of Indigenous peoples.
22. We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
23. We call upon all levels of government to:
Increase the number of Aboriginal professionals working in the health-care field;
Ensure the retention of Aboriginal health-care providers in Aboriginal communities; and
Provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals.
San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training has been offered to NOHT-ÉSON members and employees. The training challenges anti-Indigenous racism while discussing how to begin to provide identity-affirming care grounded in cultural humility. The NOHT-ÉSON recognizes the training is a foundational piece in its allyship.
The Bystander to Ally course enables people to enhance their skills in speaking out and advocating for the social justice of Indigenous peoples. The course is offered to people who have completed the initial Indigenous Cultural Safety Training offered through San’yas.
24. We call upon medical and nursing schools in Canada to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.
The NOHT-ÉSON remains committed to ensuring regular learning and growth opportunities take place. These include the use of the Indigenous Allyship Toolkit and the Mno Bmaadziwin Report as part of our commitment to learning and understanding the barriers to health and well-being outcomes of Indigenous peoples due to systemic racism and the legacies of colonization, and the NOHT-ÉSON encourages its partners to do the same.
The Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Indigenous Health Network, in partnership with the former Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Local Health Integration Network, developed the Indigenous Allyship Toolkit.
The toolkit is intended to support health care providers in addressing inequities. The document includes many helpful resources on advocating for social justice and addressing anti-Indigenous racism.
Click here to download a copy of the toolkit.
The Manager of Indigenous Healthcare Relations has also made allyship training opportunities available to all NOHT-ÉSON members, their staff and volunteers, and the community.
Orange Shirt Day
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation also coincides with Orange Shirt Day, inspired by Phyllis Webstad, who had her favourite orange shirt taken from her on her first day at a residential school when she was six. In addition to signifying when Indigenous children were sent to residential schools, Orange Shirt Day reminds us of the assimilation practices towards Indigenous peoples, that “Every Child Matters”, and encourages us all to wear an orange shirt on September 30.
Learn more about Phyllis’ story here.
Indigenous Mental Health and Community Services
The NOHT-ÉSON recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation may be a distressing time for Indigenous peoples. Hope for Wellness Helpline is available 24/7 to all Indigenous people across Canada – call 1-855-242-3310 or visit www.hopeforwellness.ca. The helpline is operated by Donna Cona, an Indigenous organization funded by the Government of Canada.
The NOHT-ÉSON’s Resource Navigator features many Indigenous-led health and community services in the Niagara region. They can be accessed here.