Everyone, regardless of their sexual or gender identity, has the right to access the care they need to have a happy and healthy life. For many Indigenous, racialized, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ communities, barriers in the health care system continue to exist and are often compounded by experiences of discrimination, and a lack of culturally safe, stigma-free health services.
This week, the Indigenous Health team at PHSA welcomed the news of over $1.8 million in funding to the San'yas Anti-Racism Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, and Indigenous Youth Wellness programs. The funding is part of the Government of Canada's Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Fund, which was established to support projects that address the pressing needs of people in Canada who are at increased risk for poorer SRH outcomes.
On Wednesday, August 8, PHSA welcomed the Honourable Mark Holland, Canada's Minister of Health, Knowledge Keeper Shane Pointe, Sulksun, Heather Hastings, executive director, Indigenous Health at PHSA and the Honourable Taleeb Noormohamed, Member Parliament for Vancouver Granville, to 1333 West Broadway. Together, they announced this important fund and recognized the work of the San'yas and Indigenous Youth Wellness programs.
“This is such an important announcement and it's about a lot more than money," said the Minister. “It's about supporting community-led efforts that help Indigenous people access sexual and reproductive health services, not just in accessing services but in attacking what colonialism, bigotry and racism have done to make people afraid to come forward to get the help they need. It's a joy to meet the people here today delivering these services."
The Indigenous Youth Wellness Program (IYW) was formed in 2012 in response to unacceptably high suicide rates, incidences of violence and a lack of culturally relevant violence prevention programming for Indigenous youth in B.C. The program offers free online culturally-based wellness programs and produces the Teachings in the Air podcast.
"In meeting with youth in their communities, we have been hearing about how the legacy of colonization continues to impact the way Indigenous youth see themselves," said Sam Tsuruda, program manager of the Health Canada IYW grant. “We are witnessing their empowerment in unpacking this and their hunger for traditional knowledge that affirms their intersectional identities, from words in their languages to gender-inclusive ceremonies. These are extremely healing conversations. Our team looks forward to continue shaping education to be relevant, inclusive, and celebratory of Indigenous youth."
The San'yas Anti-Racism Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Program has been delivering accredited, facilitated, online Indigenous-led cultural safety training to health care organizations across Canada for over 12 years. To date, over 180,000 people in B.C., Ontario and Manitoba have taken the courses.
“I am grateful to Minister Holland for travelling to meet us and I appreciate getting to share the work we are doing here," said Heather Hastings, executive director, Indigenous Health at PHSA. “This funding will focus on helping professionals increase their knowledge, awareness, and skills to address gaps in health services and programming, and supporting Indigenous youth as they reclaim their connection to their culture and territory. It is part of the important work underway to address barriers to health care for Indigenous people that lead to poor health outcomes."