Truth and Reconciliation 2022
Friday, September 30, 2022 will be the second National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We strongly encourage all physicians to review this message ahead of next Friday and consider how you can contribute to reconciliation, perhaps by choosing one or more of the actions below. If you run a medical clinic, consider sharing this message and the resources provided with all staff. It might be impactful to encourage team members to discuss their chosen actions with each other.
Everyone has a role in reconciliation.
Creating a statutory holiday was one of 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Last year the federal government formally acted on that advice to create a new national holiday to recognize and commemorate the inter-generational harm that residential schools have caused to Indigenous families and communities, to honour those who have been affected by this injustice and to inform further action in the spirit of reconciliation. The province of Manitoba will continue to recognize this as a“day of observance.”
Schools will be closed on September 30 and most provincial offices and non-essential public services will be closed as well. Most health services, however, will continue to operate due to heightened patient demand for care and the backlog caused by the pandemic.
Until last year, schools across Canada had recognized September 30 as Orange Shirt Day, a day to engage students in discussion about residential schools and the lasting legacy they have on our nation. This date has now been adopted for the new national holiday, and while it might feel like a symbolic step, many view it as an important symbol of progress.
What actions should physicians take?
After taking the time to reflect on the truth of our colonial history and its impact on Indigenous communities for centuries, it can make reconciliation feel like an insurmountable task. Even the smallest actions can add up and make an impact. Actions can take many forms, and could include:
- Learning more about the truth of our colonial history and the inter-generational impact that persists today.
- Considering how that history continues to affect patients in your practice today and how small changes can make a difference.
- Displaying your support for Indigenous Peoples and your commitment to reconciliation.
- Supporting Indigenous organizations.
Last year we talked to several Indigenous physicians to help us better understand how important it is for the medical community to take part in reconciliation.
Learn More and Take Part
Taking the time to learn more is a concrete action. Reconciliation can’t happen without learning the truth. There are many online resources, books, exhibits and TV coverage from which we can all improve our understanding of our history:
- The government of Canada has a web page about the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation with resources to learn more.
- Listen, watch, read and share the stories of residential school survivors. This includes the #Next150 Challenge, as well as Wawahte, a documentary of the stories of residential school survivors.
- Beyond 94 is a CBC initiative that measures the progress on the Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
- The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation has a collection of teaching resources for a variety of ages. You can also access key reports.
- See special TV coverage: There will be extensive programming this Thursday. Check out the schedule for APTN.
- Red River College has a list of events and resources for the week.
- Read a book, such as 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act, Braiding Sweetgrass, True Reconciliation: How to be a force for change, or another book from one of Canada’s many Indigenous voices.
- Listen to a podcast, like Warrior Life by Pam Palmater or Spirit to Soar, which is a companion to Tanya Talaga’s documentary.
- Review case studies from the Indigenous Health Primer, a comprehensive learning tool of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada has made Indigenous Health a mandatory component of postgraduate medical education. The comprehensive education guide is available here.
Consider the Impact in Your Practice
As a physician, a professional action could include reflecting on how you interact with Indigenous patients, or it could be a broader reflection on your practice. When it comes to individual patients, “don’t make assumptions,” explained one doctor. Many Indigenous patients have inter-generational trauma or may continue to be marginalized by colonial systems, but they are not all the same. “Listen. Build trust. Be patient.” Other actions to consider in your practice include:
- Recruiting Indigenous team members in your practice.
- Reflecting on ‘The Imperatives of Anti-Racism in Leadership’ as outlined by Dr. Marcia Anderson
- Registering for and attending an Indigenous Health learning event.
- Implementing a process to receive patient experience feedback from Indigenous patients.
- Reviewing the health-related Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and consider how they apply to your practice setting.
- Following the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada on Twitter for regular updates.
- Ensure you and your colleagues have support help lines and other resources on hand for Indigenous patients who may need specific help. See this resource list as an example.
Display Your Support and Commitment
There are many ways to display your support:
- Wear orange this week, especially on Friday.
- Hang an orange shirt in your window.
- Consider adding Indigenous art and health materials in your office.
You can also attend an event to learn more and support Truth and Reconciliation:
- Virtual events organized by the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.
- The Winnipeg Art Gallery-Qaumajuq will be hosting special programming.
- The Manitoba Museum has programs and exhibits on the history and effects of residential schools and will offer free admission from Friday to Sunday. Time-specific tickets should be obtained in advance.
- Visit the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, which has several relevant exhibits and features the “Métis Memories of Residential Schools: A Testament to the Strength of the Métis” exhibit.
- Honouring the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Thompson event on Thursday September 29 and Friday, September 30 organized by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak.
- Truth and Reconciliation Day Ceremony in Dauphin on September 30 organized by the Dauphin Friendship Centre.
Support Indigenous Organizations
There are a growing number of Indigenous organizations. Supporting non-profit organizations with a donation, or local businesses with a purchase, is another form of action.
- Patronize a local Indigenous business, including to buy an orange shirt.
- Donate to a Canadian Indigenous organization, such as the Orange Shirt Society, the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, Bear Clan Winnipeg, or other non-profit organizations involved in supporting Indigenous Peoples.
- Consider an Indigenous travel experience in Canada.