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Celebrating Indigenous Peoples, cultures and knowledge

A message from David Byres, president & CEO, on behalf of the executive leadership team.
National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21 with hummingbird
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​Today is National Indigenous Peoples Day, an occasion to reflect on and celebrate the unique heritages, cultures, knowledge and contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples across Canada. This day also serves as a reminder to settlers on these lands of the responsibility to educate ourselves on the history of colonization as well as the systemic harm that persists in our society and health system today, in order to create the foundation upon which we can initiate meaningful change.

Education is a journey. Like paddling a canoe, it requires commitment, time and the support of others. To understand our role in eliminating Indigenous-specific racism in the health-care system and beyond, we must first learn about and acknowledge the truth, encouraging one another on this learning journey, without judgement.

During Indigenous History Month and beyond, we are committed to seeking out information that enriches our knowledge of the First Nations in B.C., and we welcome all settlers here in British Columbia to do the same: Research traditions unique to the land on which you live and work; explore the history of the local nations in your area; and experiment with languages so that you might gain confidence with Indigenous words and pronunciations. Personally, it is this kind of learning, blended with current events – like the recent decision of the City of Vancouver to raise flags representing the three host nations xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) at the entrance to Stanley Park – that I try to incorporate into my interactions and conversations with colleagues and loved ones. It brings history into the present and brings urgency to the work of reconciliation.

I extend my gratitude to all PHSA staff and partners for welcoming Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month as an opportunity to learn and grow, and then inform actions that we undertake as individuals and members of the provincial health system, moving us tangibly closer to reconciliation.
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