The College believes that cultural safety and humility are vital for the provision of fair and equal health services, as well as the creation of a healthcare environment free of racism and discrimination, where individuals feel safe and respected.
Cultural Safety is an outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the healthcare system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care.
Cultural Humility is a life-long process of reflection to understand individual and systemic biases and to develop and maintain respectful processes and relationships based on mutual trust. Cultural humility involves humbly acknowledging oneself as a life-long learner when it comes to understanding another’s experience.
Released in December 2020, the report “In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C Health Care” found that the majority of Indigenous people in BC have encountered racism and discrimination within our health care system, whether as a patient or a health care worker. Indigenous respondents described experiencing stereotyping, unacceptable personal interactions and poorer quality of care, as well as noting that they do not feel safe when accessing health care services and interacting with health providers.
In 2017, the College pledged its commitment to improving BC pharmacy professionals’ work with First Nations and Aboriginal People however, the gravity of the findings forced us to take a step back and re-examine our role as health care leaders. Our job is to protect patients and the public by ensuring that the professionals we regulate provide safe, ethical and quality care. And yet, the continued existence of widespread systemic discrimination, and inequitable health outcomes for Indigenous Peoples makes it clear that we have not done enough.
System racism and intolerance toward Indigenous worldviews and traditional approaches to health, as well as the enduring legacy of colonialism all present as persistent barriers for Indigenous people when accessing appropriate health care services.
In response to the report, the College has been working with Indigenous experts and other health regulators in BC to take immediate action toward dismantling Indigenous-specific racism within BC’s health care system and to lead a culture of anti-racism among the professionals we regulate.
Highlights from our work in addressing Indigenous specific racism over the past fiscal year include:
- As part of the BC Health Regulators Cultural Safety Task Force, developed a Health Profession Regulator’s Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility Education Toolkit proposal which was approved by the BC Health Regulators.
- Raised awareness of regulated health professionals duty to report racist behaviours in the healthcare system.
- Raised awareness of National Indigenous Peoples Day and sharing resources with health professionals to help them practice culturally safe patient care.
- Raised awareness of the impacts of residential schools on First Nations communities through participation in Orange Shirt Day, including sharing information with pharmacy professionals, and hosting a virtual Orange Shirt Day Ceremony with College staff.
- Encouraged contributions from registrants to Dr. Mary-Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s investigation into Indigenous-specific racism in BC’s health care system.
- Along with BC’s Health Regulators, welcomed and supported the In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care report, which outlines the findings and recommendations from the Addressing Racism: An Independent Investigation into Indigenous-specific Racism in BC Health Care led by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond.
- Committed to working with the Ministry of Health and other partners to reflect the recommendations within the report and take actions that will support changes in the health care system to eliminate Indigenous-specific racism, systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination.
- Dissected and summarized the report in an article intended to discuss its findings with pharmacy professionals, and reinforce our commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility for First Nations people in BC.