Indigenous self-identification process

A voluntary, confidential self-identification process for patients and residents who identify as Indigenous: First Nations, Inuit or Métis.

Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is committed to a new relationship with Indigenous communities and closing the gap in health and social disparities for Indigenous persons in British Columbia. The Indigenous self-identification process (ISI) enables VCH and Indigenous partners and communities to work together to improve health care for people across the region.

As of November 5, 2022, all patients who come into acute care or inpatient services at Vancouver General Hospital and 50 priority clinics will be asked if they wish to identify as Indigenous during the registration process. Everyone will be asked, no assumptions will be made as to who is Indigenous. This is a part of every patient registration with our new CST Cerner electronic patient records system.  

This question has been asked at Pemberton Medical Clinic, Squamish General, Whistler Health Care Centre, Lions Gate Hospital, and Sechelt Hospital since 2019.

If you have Indigenous ancestry, you may self-identify. This is based on how you define your identity. You do not need to provide proof. 

Your answer will not affect the care you receive. Identification is completely voluntary — you can choose not to answer. 

If you say yes, staff will add your answer to your electronic health record. If you deferred or chose not to answer the first time, you will be asked the next time you register for in-patient services. Your answers will become part of your electronic patient record, but can be changed at any time.

If you self-identify as Indigenous, you will be asked a few more questions including whether you are First Nations, Métis or Inuit, whether you have status or whether you live on or off reserve. You will also be asked if you want to receive Indigenous Patient Experience Team support and services to help you through your stay.

By knowing if patients are Indigenous, VCH staff and physicians are able to deliver more culturally sensitive care and integrate traditional practices if requested, into your care plan. Knowing how you identify is important to providing you with relevant health care services. All information is completely confidential and protected by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.