Dr Bonnie Henry, Elders, Reconciliation, and COVID-19

When Dr Bonnie Henry announced the death of an Elder from Alert Bay, I was struck by her compassion, her understanding of the enormity of the immediate and long term loss to the Elder’s family and her community, the loss to the greater society, and the deep emotion in her voice. 

"Included in the deaths in the last 24 hours, is our first death in one of B.C.’s First Nations communities. Along with the many lives we have lost to COVID-19, this is a tragedy that’s beyond just us. This is a tragedy for all of us. Our Elders, in particular, in our First Nations communities are culture and history keepers.

When they become ill and when they die, we all lose and I want you to know that we feel that collective loss today. My thoughts are with her family and her entire community as I recognize the tragic impact this has on all of them.

It is particularly a challenging time to not be able to come together physically, in the normal way that we would, to respect the customs that we have in communities at this time and my condolences and my heart goes out to this community and to the family.” 

You can listen to Dr Henry by clicking this link; her above comments are in the first 100 seconds. 

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Suggestions for Helping Vulnerable and Remote Indigenous Communities

Amidst all the dire news about the trajectory of global and local COVID-19 case numbers and mortality, hoarding of necessities, fights in grocery stores it was a joy to receive a question from a follower asking how they could help remote or vulnerable Indigenous communities. 

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A Brief Look at Indian Hospitals in Canada

We would like to acknowledge that this article was framed from the research and writing of authors Maureen Lux (Separate Beds A History of Indian Hospitals in Canada, 1920s - 1980s) and Gary Geddes (Medicine Unbundled A Journey Through the Minefields of Indigenous Health Care).

In this article we use 'Indian' as that was the term used at the time. For information on appropriate terminology, download our free ebook “Indigenous Peoples: A Guide to Terminology.

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9 Tips for a Culturally Competent Environment for Indigenous Patients


Fixing the way in which healthcare is delivered to Indigenous people is a massive, complex undertaking on the national scale. However, on the smaller scale, simple things can be done at the first point of contact, and throughout the care organization that will make a world of difference to not only the Indigenous patient but also to the health care practitioners. The first step in fixing the system is to create a culturally competent environment for Indigenous patients.

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Cultural Competency in Indigenous Health Care

What is a culturally competent health care environment? It is an environment in which Indigenous people feel culturally safe.............they are treated with respect, compassion, and cultural understanding. A culturally incompetent health care environment is one in which Indigenous people encounter racism, stereotyping, and disrespect both personally and culturally.

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