The following article was submitted by Sara Shyiak, Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.
The Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba is committing to ReconciliACTION in child health, through the creation and work of an Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC) to the Foundation.
The legacy of residential schools profoundly affects Indigenous Peoples in all spaces, including health care. In Manitoba Indigenous children are three to five times more likely to be affected by several diseases/conditions that require long-term care, which often means visiting HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital for years.
Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba is deeply committed to taking meaningful steps towards reconciliation and responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, specifically TRC Call to Action #22:
We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients.
As part of that journey, in 2019 the Foundation created the IAC.
“Reconciliation is very close to our hearts as an organization and we wanted to make sure every action we take is directly informed by Indigenous community members,” says Stefano Grande, president and CEO of Children’s Hospital Foundation.
The Foundation reached out to Indigenous leaders to learn the best approach for engaging the Indigenous community and supporting reconciliation efforts, which led to recruiting the Foundation’s first Indigenous Board member, Rebecca Chartrand.
Ms. Chartrand went on to lead and help form the IAC to the Children’s Hospital Foundation, a group of leaders from First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities across Manitoba who generously share their wisdom and counsel with the Foundation as it supports culturally safe programming, resources and spaces in the hospital.
“It’s very important to have our Elders and leaders involved in informing meaningful change for Indigenous youth,” says Ms. Chartrand, chairperson of the Indigenous Advisory Circle. “I deeply appreciate the Foundation’s commitment to reconciliation and taking action to support child health.”
In two years the IAC and Foundation have already made many meaningful moves forward, including:
Leading staff and board training on the importance of reconciliation, including the KAIROS Blanket Exercise to build understanding of our shared history as Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada. IAC members also facilitate ongoing learning sessions for staff and board on issues facing families in hospital, like Jordan’s Principle. Staff will also take the Indigenous Canada course offered through the University of Alberta.
Recruiting and appointing Indigenous community members across all levels of the organization.
Collaborating with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, to raise money for a Spirit Bear Mask to help protect Indigenous youth from COVID-19.
Sharing input on reflecting Indigenous worldviews through art at HSC Children’s, including in the new Children’s Heart Centre.
Informing key Foundation marketing projects and programs with an Indigenous lens.
Helping launch the fundraising campaign for the Indigenous Community Healing Space at HSC Winnipeg Children’s Hospital, which will provide families with a safe space to heal away from their home and cultural supports. You can support this project at: goodbear.ca/indigenoushealth
“We’re grateful to the IAC for providing information and advice within an Indigenous perspective and worldview,” says Zoë Richardson, chair of the Foundation board. “This helps the Foundation to build deep, meaningful and collaborative relationships to improve the health of children at HSC Children’s through engagement and fundraising.”