The establishment of the First Nations Health Authority, the work of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and most recently, the appointment of two indigenous MPs to the federal cabinet, are all examples of efforts to acknowledge the history of colonization in this country and collaborate with Aboriginal leadership to address its legacy. However, amongst this progress a hard truth remains: statistically significant health disparities exist for aboriginal people both here in BC and across Canada. As a nurse, you have the power to help make a change. In fact, CRNBC’s entry-level RN competencies require nurses to consider how their practice can help achieve positive health outcomes for Aboriginal Peoples. Your actions are key to the promotion and delivery of culturally safe, appropriate and ethical care to aboriginal peoples.

The first step is awareness, and that’s where the Indigenous Cultural Competency (ICC) Health Training comes in. One of four streams of ICC training available, the ICC Health training has been specifically developed for health professionals and focuses on health issues specific to working with indigenous people in B.C. With the goal of improving access to health services and health outcomes for aboriginal people, the training also covers terminology, tools for developing more effective communication and relationship building skills, aspects of colonial history and the legacies of colonization (and more).

Learning about damaging policies – such as residential schools – increases awareness of how past policies and practices have contributed to systemic racism and discrimination within our health care system today. Equipped with that knowledge, you can break the cycle and help create better health outcomes for aboriginal peoples.

I encourage all RNs, CPs and NPs to find out more about the program and make plans to take the training if you haven’t already. With renewal just around the corner, I urge you to consider how this foundational learning can be included in your professional development plan for the coming year. It’s free for B.C. health authority employees ($250 for all other participants), and it will help our country start making the cultural shift that is so clearly needed.