Occupational therapists occupy a position of public trust due to their knowledge and training in a specific field of health. Their ethical and professional responsibility is to provide information and advice that is factual, backed by science and directly related to their professional designation/scope of practice.
This responsibility extends to professional and personal opinions and statements about COVID-19 that are shared with others, including on social media platforms, online and in the media.
In the Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action the Colleges state: “As the leaders of health regulatory colleges in British Columbia that govern more than 21,000 health professionals, we respectfully and humbly apologize to Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), communities and registrants of our respective Colleges who have experienced and suffered from racism while engaging with our organizations or with the health professionals we regulate.”
“We hope that this apology and commitment to action can be the start of a new journey to restore our relationship and enable collaborative work toward continued reconciliation and healing.”
The Joint Statement was signed by the 11 Colleges at a July 27, 2021 ceremony with an Indigenous leader, knowledge carrier and witnesses at Spanish Banks in Vancouver on the unceded, ancestral, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.
“It is great to see the collective leadership being provided by the Health Regulators’ commitment to the Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action,” said Joe Gallagher, k’ʷunəmɛn, Tla’amin Nation, a First Nations consultant for the Health Regulators. “The Health Regulators are a key part of the BC health system and the work done today marks the responsibilities they have committed to through First Nations teachings. Their actions moving forward are essential to eradicating Indigenous-specific racism and achieving Cultural Safety and Humility in the health care system through the health professionals they regulate.”
The ceremony location included an anchor sculpture as a symbol of the signatory Colleges being grounded in this important moment of commitment. A mountain with a human form in the distance acted as the official witness of the ceremony.
“We are becoming One (Nutsamaht)! This powerful moment proves that to me,” said Sulksun (Shane Pointe), a First Nations Knowledge Carrier who guided the ceremony.
“Signing the Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action is an important act of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in B.C.,” said Jennifer Lawrence, Registrar/CEO of the College of Dental Hygienists of BC, one of the signatory Colleges. “As part of reconciliation, we have a responsibility to deepen our understanding of the trauma experienced by Indigenous peoples when receiving care and take real action to ensure they are able to access health care that is culturally safe and free from racism.”
The signatory Colleges are:
College of Chiropractors of BC College of Dental Hygienists of BC College of Denturists of BC
College of Dietitians of BC
College of Naturopathic Physicians of BC
College of Occupational Therapists of BC
College of Opticians of BC
College of Optometrists of BC
College of Physical Therapists of BC
College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC
College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of BC
In accordance with First Nations protocols, five people who attended the ceremony were called upon as official witnesses to legitimize the work and carry the oral history of this historic event. These witnesses were essential to the ceremony and are responsible for sharing what they saw, heard, and felt with their family when they return home and whenever they are asked. Witnesses are an important component of oral traditions and hold the truth which ensures each of us remains accountable to our commitment set out in the apology.
“It was a profound honour to act as a witness to this important event, ensuring the heart-felt memories and messages of the ceremony are carried forward and shared with others, and that regulators are held accountable for their commitments,” said Andrea Bowden, Deputy Registrar, College of Occupational Therapists of BC and one of the official witnesses of the ceremony.
The organization doesn’t anticipate this new service option will generate additional work for treatment providers or medical office assistants. It’s designed to make it easier for workers to provide authorization to WorkSafeBC, reduce administrative and mailing delays, and enable the organization to request records from practitioners earlier. Treatment providers and WorkSafeBC will be able to expedite recommendations and referrals for appropriate treatment, helping restore injured workers to their life and work in a safe and timely manner.
B.C.’s Electronic Transactions Act allows for digital signatures in place of handwritten pen-to-paper signatures. WorkSafeBC will accept digital signatures drawn on a touch-screen tablet or with a mouse.
Please share this information with any of your office staff who receive WorkSafeBC’s authorization forms for the release of information.
Photo Above: Remarks and teachings offered by Sulksun (Shane Pointe), Knowledge Carrier, Salish Nation. | Photo Credit: Michael Sean Lee
As a health profession regulator, COTBC recognizes that over 100 years of abuse of Indigenous children in residential schools in Canada has caused deep vulnerabilities in social determinants of health for Indigenous peoples today.
Further, the In Plain Sight report (PDF) released last year detailed findings of ongoing, widespread systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in the B.C. health care system.
On July 27, 2021, registrars from 11 Health Regulatory Colleges in B.C., including the College of Occupational Therapists of BC, gathered with an Indigenous leader, knowledge carrier and witnesses to sign a Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action in response to the In Plain Sight report (PDF) at an intimate ceremony at Spanish Banks in Vancouver on the unceded, ancestral, traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.
“As the leaders of health regulatory colleges in British Columbia that govern more than 21,000 health professionals, we respectfully and humbly apologize to Indigenous peoples (First Nations, Métis, and Inuit), communities and registrants of our respective Colleges who have experienced and suffered from racism while engaging with our organizations or with the health professionals we regulate.”
“We recognize that several months have passed since the In Plain Sight report was first published. Our communication comes now with the benefit of cumulative and collective learning to be intentional and self-reflective on our personal and systemic biases that are preventing Indigenous peoples from accessing and receiving safe health care services.”
The ceremony where the Joint Statement was signed was informed by Indigenous culture. For example, the ceremony location included an anchor sculpture as a symbol of the signatory Colleges being grounded in this important moment of commitment; and a mountain with a human form in the distance was the official witness of the ceremony.
To get a sense of the ceremony, a short (60-second) video was created that you can watch below or on YouTube.
We hope that this apology and commitment to action can be the start of a new journey to restore our relationship and enable collaborative work toward continued reconciliation and healing.
Registrants, please review the College’s progress on the commitment to Indigenous cultural safety and humility.
We continue to take steps that embed the principles of cultural safety and humility into our organizational values, governance, and operations. Below we share highlights of our recent activities.
Website Updates After completing an environmental scan, we are updating and developing content for our website. Examples of planned topics include land acknowledgements, a listing of relevant reports and publications, and an overview of resources and continuing education opportunities.
We are excited to explore engaging the talent of a local Indigenous artist to develop meaningful, culturally appropriate images for the site.
Adoption of a COTBC Land Acknowledgement Policy We believe meaningful land acknowledgements are an initial step towards reconciliation, decolonization, and Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility. They show recognition and respect, which are essential to strengthening and healing relationships.
Given this, COTBC recently adopted a new policy that guides the organization on how its land acknowledgements will be developed and delivered.
Self-Identification of Indigenous Occupational Therapists As part of this year’s registration renewal, we invited occupational therapists to voluntarily disclose if they identify as Indigenous (First Nations, Métis, or Inuit) and if so, if they were interested in being contacted to provide their perspectives on important regulatory issues.
We are pleased to share that of the 31 registrants that self-identified as Indigenous, 18 consented to contact. We sincerely appreciate this interest, and we will be in touch as opportunities arise to provide your valuable input.
National Indigenous Peoples Day Staff of COTBC and the College of Physiotherapists of BC gathered on National Indigenous Peoples Day to reflect and learn about the impacts of colonization in Canada and the importance of land acknowledgements.
COTBC invites occupational therapists practising in BC to submit an expression of interest or nominate a colleague who can provide practice-specific knowledge and first-hand experience about what occupational therapists “need to know” to deliver safe, ethical and effective occupational therapy services.
We are looking for Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) who have documented expertise in diverse areas of practice and represent the occupational therapy population in BC.
SMEs required for case development
SMEs are needed to both write and review case scenarios for the Quality Assurance Program activities (e.g., Annual Continuing Competence Review).
College volunteers receive annual honorariums and travel/accommodation expenses are covered.
If you, or a colleague you know, might be interested in this opportunity, please complete and submit this form by August 20th, 2021. Please complete a separate form for each colleague you are nominating. Thank you!
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