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.

Below you will find resources and suggestions aligned with the actions above. 

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 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.

Shared Health has curated some great resources and has a list of events.

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:

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:

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.