Indigenous Voices, Stories, and Healthcare at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia

The HARC team was encouraged and inspired by the insights and conversations surrounding our most recent iteration of “Indigenous Voices, Stories, and Healthcare”, a 3-hour workshop created with the aim of working towards a more culturally humble healthcare system embracing Indigenous peoples and Indigenous knowledges. Experiences, critical discussions, and stories were shared by local Indigenous and non-Indigenous healthcare providers, health researchers, patients, nursing students, medical students, and writers.

The workshop took place at the University Hospital of Northern British Columbia and was a preliminary taster of upcoming arts-informed events that will be taking place during the 2020 Ut’loo Noye Khunni~Weaving Words Celebration. The workshop connected with the Weaving Word Celebration’s overarching theme of “Honouring Elders”. The full Ut’loo Noye Khunni~Weaving Words Celebration will be taking place in June of 2020.

The evening began with an opening welcome to Lheidli T’enneh First Nation’s territory by Elder Darlene McIntosh and a buffet dinner. Once dinner was complete, participants moved into the workshop space and the group was given time to introduce themselves and share stories and self-reflections about what had brought them to the workshop. Thomsen D’Hont, a fourth-year Indigenous medical student at UBC Faculty of Medicine, led a presentation and interactive discussion on the importance of becoming more culturally humble and respectful with Indigenous patients and Indigenous medical students. His presentation also included practical tools for reflecting on and responding to racism in healthcare settings.

Tse’khene Elder Jane Inyallie from the McLeod Lake Indian Band told stories of her personal and work experience in health and counselling. She also spoke on her unique journey in self-expression through writing and creative photography.

Elder Roy Nooski, belonging to the Luksilyoo Clan (Caribou) of the Nadleh Whut’En, shared his experience using tradition and culture in his own healing journey, as well as for supporting others with their health and wellness in his role as a drug and alcohol counsellor.

Warm thanks and appreciation to our presenters and storytellers, Jane Inyallie, Roy Nooski, Thomsen D’Hont, and Sarah de Leeuw, as well as to all those that attended and shared the enthusiastic desire to listen and learn from each other’s stories.

    This workshop was made possible by a jointly-funded SSHRC and CIHR Partnership Grant. Special thanks also to our partners UBC, UNBC, and Northern Health (Indigenous Health).

    We plan to continue to take this and similar workshops on the road across northern BC over the next year. If you’d like to discuss bringing a similar workshop to your organization or community, please be in touch with us!