In the week leading up to National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) team is reflecting on its journey towards truth and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples throughout its region and country. A part of VCH's journey is expanding its Aboriginal Health team to ensure Indigenous knowledge and expertise is embedded throughout the organization.
The Aboriginal Health leadership team recently introduced themselves to the wider VCH team and shared how their roles work within VCH and how they connect to the recommendations outlined in the In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care report.
Leslie Bonshor – Vice President, Indigenous Health
Leslie's role aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 14: That the B.C. government, Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), the five regional health authorities, B.C. colleges and universities with health programs, health regulators, and all health service organizations, providers and facilities recruit Indigenous individuals to senior positions to oversee and promote needed system change.
As leader of the team, Leslie's work ensures Aboriginal Health:
"As an organization, VCH has acknowledged and accepted the findings of the In Plain Sight report and will act on all 24 recommendations," noted Leslie. "I am proud to be a part of a health-care organization that is leading the way. Our Aboriginal Health team is unlike any other, ensuring Indigenous knowledge and expertise is embedded from the leadership level to front-line services across our health authority."
Dr. Don Wilson – Medical Director and Dr. Toma Timothy – Medical Advisor
The work of Don and Toma also aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 14.
Don is the first Indigenous physician to be a member of the Health Authority Advisory Medical Committee (HAMAC), representing Indigenous health. Toma is a family physician and is an advisor to the Aboriginal Health team for primary care and assisting Dr. Wilson.
Together, their work encompasses facilitating indigenous cultural safety (ICS) for physician-based training, being subject matter experts for other physician groups and collaborating with Indigenous women's health and wellness.
Brittany Bingham – Director, Indigenous Research and Evaluation
Brittany's team aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 9: That the B.C. government establish a system-wide measurement framework on Indigenous cultural safety, Indigenous rights to health and Indigenous-specific racism, and work with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, Métis Nation B.C. (MNBC), the Indigenous Health Officer, and the Indigenous Health Representative and Advocate to ensure appropriate processes of Indigenous data governance are followed throughout required data acquisition, access, analysis and reporting.
Composed of a strategic lead and two research coordinators, Brittany's team works across multiple research partners to collaborate on research projects, develop funding streams for Indigenous research, mentor Indigenous students and conduct cultural safety education for research.
To read some of Brittany's research publications, visit https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Brittany-Bingham-2.
Miranda Kelly – Director, Maternal and Family Health
Miranda's team aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 16: That the B.C. government implement immediate measures to respond to the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women & Girls (MMIWG) Calls for Justice and the specific experiences and needs of Indigenous women as outlined in this review.
With strategic direction by Miranda and support from a perinatal substance use lead, the Maternal and Family Health team's work is related to Indigenous women's and family health, including gender equity and inclusivity, reproductive justice, perinatal health, infant and child health and anti-violence and anti-racism in health care. Currently, they are working on an Indigenous-focused perinatal substance use project within the VCH region. The Maternal and Family Health team will eventually encompass all aspects of Indigenous women, two-spirit and non-binary, child and family health from the perinatal period through to end of life.
Bree Beveridege – Director, Indigenous Inclusion and Engagement
Bree's work aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 7: That the Ministry of Health establish a structured, senior-level health relationship table with Metis Nation B.C. (MNBC), and direct health authorities to enter into Letters of Understanding with Métis Nation B.C. and Métis Chartered Communities that establish a collaborative relationship with clear and measurable outcomes.
As the Indigenous Inclusion and Engagement lead, Bree works to:
Bridge conventional medical thinking and Indigenous perspectives to provide innovative solutions that support stronger relationships, better health care experiences and improved wellness
Support relationship building and partnerships
Bring together diverse partners and identify innovative and culturally appropriate solutions
Embed Indigenous perspectives across VCH
Bree's current projects include:
COVID-19 pandemic and emergency response
Indigenous-focused vaccine campaign
Rural and remote team development
Supporting Indigenous-focused hires
Partnership with VCH's Community Engagement team
Lori Quinn – Director, Indigenous Patient Experience Team and Professional Practice
Lori's team aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 5: That the B.C. government, First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, and Metis Nation B.C. jointly develop a strategy to improve the patient complaint processes to address individual and systemic Indigenous-specific racism.
While Lori officially starts in her role on November 1, this team of Indigenous Patient Navigators, Indigenous Patient Care Clinicians (RNs) and Indigenous Patient Care Quality (IPCQ) Liaisons work to support Indigenous patients in hospitals across our region and support staff and medical staff who care for Indigenous patients to provide a culturally safe and welcoming experience.
Shannon McCarthy – Director, Indigenous Mental Health & Wellness
Shannon's team aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 17: That the B.C. government and First National Health Authority demonstrate progress on commitments to increase access to culturally safe mental health and wellness and substance use services.
Shannon's team includes a clinical coordinator, Indigenous mental health liaison, project manager and a rural and remote substance use lead. Together, they work to provide leadership in building strong partnerships and working closely with Indigenous peoples and communities to ensure mental wellness and substance use strategies, services, and actions across VCH reflect individual, family and community needs for Indigenous peoples. They also work to ensure these services and actions are in alignment with the VCH's Indigenous Health Strategic Plan, the First Nations Health Plan and the Tri-partite Health Plan.
Tiffany Creyke – Director, Indigenous Design & Projects
Tiffany's work aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendation 10: That design of hospital facilities in B.C. include partnership with local Indigenous peoples and the Nations on whose territories these facilities are located, so that health authorities create culturally-appropriate, dedicated physical spaces in health facilities for ceremony and cultural protocol, and visibly include Indigenous artwork, signage and territorial acknowledgement throughout these facilities.
Tiffany's works sets a new overall direction intended to inform the design of all major capital projects in the VCH region including owned, operated and affiliated builds. Together with VCH's Facilities Management team and project managers, Tiffany works to replace and rejuvenate design that supports systemic well-being through authentically enriched design processes that foster the knowledge systems of the Indigenous community. Engaging community representatives as stakeholders in the planning of each project, during each design phase, is integral to this work.
Janice Wardrop - Director, Indigenous Cultural Safety & Education
Janice's team aligns with In Plain Sight Recommendations 6, 9 and 20.
Recommendation 6: That the parties to the bilateral and tripartite First Nations health plans and agreements work in co-operation with B.C. First Nations to establish expectations for addressing commitments in those agreements that have not been honoured, and for how those expectations will be met through renewed structures and agreements that are consistent with the implementation of DRIPA.
Recommendation 9: That the B.C. government establish a system-wide measurement framework on Indigenous cultural safety, Indigenous rights to health and Indigenous-specific racism, and work with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, MNBC, the Indigenous Health Officer, and the Indigenous Health Representative and Advocate to ensure appropriate processes of Indigenous data governance are followed throughout required data acquisition, access, analysis and reporting.
Recommendation 20: That a refreshed approach to anti-racism, cultural humility and trauma-informed training for health workers be developed and implemented, including standardized learning expectations for health workers at all levels, and mandatory, low-barrier components. This approach, co-developed with First Nations governing bodies and representative organizations, MNBC, health authorities and appropriate educational institutions, to absorb existing San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety training.
Janice's team consists of a coordinator, an administrative assistant, Indigenous cultural safety facilitators and the Elders-in-Residence program leaders. Together, they work to implement a renewed vision and strategy which begins with continued system-wide Indigenous cultural safety education and the implementation of cultural humility as a foundation to good and safe practice. Janice's team also works to develop best practices and leading strategies through collaboration, pilot projects and partnerships. Currently, Janice's team is in the envisioning and planning stages of opening a VCH-led Indigenous cultural safety training facility.
To learn more about the Aboriginal Health team as well as the services and programs offered, visit http://www.vch.ca/your-care/aboriginal-health.