As many of you may know, June is National Indigenous History Month – a time to honour the unique history and culture of Indigenous peoples. It is also a time to pay tribute to the strength and depth of present-day Indigenous communities and a time for Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, to contemplate the ongoing work of reconciliation. The difficult news from earlier this month regarding the discovery of 215 bodies found in the area around the Kamloops Indian Residential School, and the recent news regarding the 751 unmarked graves by the Marieval Indian Residential School, have been poignant reminders that our commitment to truth and reconciliation, as a university, and as a community, must be strong, and must always result in meaningful action.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind us that the academic and healthcare institutions in which many of us work are uniquely positioned to generate and mobilize knowledge that can produce systemic change. As the UBC community continues to strive toward reconciliation, we must face these truths and renew our commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action. As a Department, I encourage us to commit ourselves to taking meaningful collective action for a more just and equitable future for all.
I’d like to share a number of resources with our community including:
UBC’s updated version of the Indigenous Peoples Language Guide, UBC’s Indigenous Strategic Plan, as well as a listing of the Indigenous academic and administrative units located at UBC Vancouver. I would also like to share information about UBC’s Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) and the Land Acknowledgement course.
Of particular importance is the ‘In Plain Sight’ Report: Systemic Racism in B.C. Healthcare by Dr. Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond. As many of you may know, Dr. Turpel-Lafond’s report makes recommendations to improve equity in health care and calls on the B.C. government and the health care system, in collaboration with Indigenous peoples, to remedy the lasting consequences of colonialism and improve accountability for Indigenous-specific racism. The report also calls attention to the need for improved cultural safety in health care and increased Indigenous leadership within health services, regulators and education. As health care providers, it is imperative that we take the time to familiarize ourselves with this content and reflect on how we can facilitate respectful and meaningful dialogue in learning spaces on campus and within the communities we work.
Professor & Head, Department of Orthopaedics
The University of British Columbia
Learn more at UBC Okanagan’s webpage of events, resources and news HERE.
Read our statements on the missing children of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and our statement on the missing children of Canada’s Indian Residential Schools.