Indigenous Patient Led CPD
"Indigenous peoples in BC have an extensive history of traditional medicines and health care. As experts, our perspectives are integral to the development of cultural safety, humility protocols and resources." — Elder Cheryl Schweizer, IPL CPD
The above quote speaks to a minimum standard of collaborative engagement with Indigenous communities in any design of work addressing their health care. The work of the Indigenous Patient-led Continuing Professional Development (IPL CPD) project is to do just that and more.
We are an Elder-led group that includes both Indigenous and non-Indigenous members working together to increase cultural safety and humility in rural BC by building relationships with and between Indigenous communities and physician groups.
In doing this sort of work, we are asked, “Isn’t cultural safety in health-care settings for everyone?” In our understanding, it certainly is. We hope that every patient seeing a doctor in any setting leaves the appointment feeling respected, honored and understood for who they are, whatever their heritage and identity.
However, for Indigenous Peoples and communities, there is a history of hardship and denial of rights expressed through devastating epidemics, forced cultural assimilation, Indian residential schools, Indian Hospitals, the Sixties Scoop, confinement via the Indian Reserve system and forced removal from holistic relationship with land and spirituality. This history carries an intergenerational, detrimental legacy and the impacts of colonization remain a present-day reality.
Our goal is to reduce health disparities that Indigenous Peoples face by increasing access to culturally safe care in BC rural settings. When Indigenous Peoples feel safe and trust their health-care setting, they are more likely to access health services. We collaborate with Indigenous communities to develop training that helps make this possible. Protocols are important to most Indigenous communities and are much more than tradition and cultural customs. They remind us of our relationship with the living world, our responsibility to walk with integrity and accountability based on the teachings of our culture, to respect each other and ourselves, to be generous and compassionate and to connect our hearts with our knowledge. They remind us of our commitments and responsibilities to our ancestors, the land and our community, to guests and to entities beyond the physical world. Protocols activate and serve as a reminder of what holds us together.
There is a similar non-indigenous concept of protocol. The Latin root for this word is “First Glue”. Protocols give a frame to our collaboration and help us develop a shared understanding of ways in which we can come together.
This project is shaped by the protocols, values, principles and teachings provided by Elders, cultural practices and patterns. It expresses the experience and wisdom of each member, the relationships we have and those that we are creating in our interactions across the province. This project is like a living document— ready to adapt and flex based on whatever we encounter on this journey of working together with Indigenous and medical communities to increase cultural safety and humility in rural BC.