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Our Path Forward to Reconciliation of Indigenous Racism in BC Health Care: Joint Statement of Apology and Commitment to Action

Joe Gallagher (k'ʷunəmɛn), Qoqoq Consulting Ltd, opens the ceremony with a land acknowledgement and welcome. Photo by Michael Sean Lee

On July 27, 2021, registrars from 11 Colleges gathered with Indigenous leader, knowledge carrier and witnesses for an intimate ceremony to sign a Joint Statement of Apology and Commitment to Action at Spanish Banks in Vancouver on the unceded, ancestral, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Highlights of the Joint Statement include:

“As the leaders of health regulatory colleges in British Columbia that govern more than 21,000 health professionals, we respectfully and humbly apologize to Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), communities and registrants of our respective Colleges who have experienced and suffered from racism while engaging with our organizations or with the health professionals we regulate.”

“We recognize that several months have passed since the In Plain Sight report was first published. Our communication comes now with the benefit of cumulative and collective learning to be intentional and self-reflective on our personal and systemic biases that are preventing Indigenous peoples from accessing and receiving safe health care services.”

“We hope that this apology and commitment to action can be the start of a new journey to restore our relationship and enable collaborative work toward continued reconciliation and healing.”

Amongst the 11 Colleges present at the signing, I represented the College of Chiropractors of BC along with CCBC Board member, Terri Van Steinburg, acting as a signatory witness.

The signatory Colleges are:

  • College of Chiropractors of BC
  • College of Dental Hygienists of BC
  • College of Denturists of BC
  • College of Dietitians of BC
  • College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC
  • College of Occupational Therapists of BC
  • College of Opticians of BC
  • College of Optometrists of BC
  • College of Physical Therapists of BC
  • College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC
  • College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC

The ceremony’s location was both informed by Indigenous culture and symbolic of the signatory Colleges commitment as it includes an anchor that grounded the importance of this important moment and a mountain with a human form in the distance representing the official witness of the ceremony.

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