Our IARCS&H Initiatives

We are committed to taking action to embed Indigenous Anti-Racism, Cultural Safety and Humility (IARCS&H) into the College’s culture, governance and operations. Below we share highlights of our recent activities.

Research Project Creates Safe Spaces

COTBC staff participated in a dialogue series from May 2023 to October 2023 as part of a research project sponsored by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives. Entitled Safe Spaces, the initiative focused on ensuring governance structures are culturally safe spaces free from Indigenous-specific racism and white supremacy.

Highlights from our sessions included:

  • an introduction to Indigenous “big house” protocols
  • truth-telling and sharing of experiences by the Indigenous board and committee members
  • a review of current board structures / policies and governance materials
  • an identification of the existing colonial knots

Survey to Registrants About the Implementation of the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Standard of Practice

Ten regulatory colleges that launched the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Standard of Practice jointly surveyed their registrants to explore attitudes and perceptions of Indigenous-specific racism in healthcare settings and for information on how they implemented the standard. Some of the key learnings included:

  1. There is a continuum of attitudes and perceptions about Indigenous-specific racism reported by non-Indigenous respondents. Some agreed or strongly agreed with statements that represent stereotyping and contribute to perpetuating unsafe care and health inequities for Indigenous people.
  2. There is a correlation between years of practice and these attitudes and perceptions.
  3. The attitudes, perceptions, perspectives and behaviours of non-Indigenous respondents as self-reported differ from the words and behaviours observed by their Indigenous colleagues. This was consistent to various degrees throughout the results. While many non-Indigenous respondents believe their intentions and actions reflect safe and respectful care, the impact of their actions, as noted by Indigenous colleagues, is often not what it is believed to be.
  4. Indigenous-specific racism exists beyond public healthcare settings. Eighty percent (80%) of all respondents recognize that Indigenous-specific racism is a problem in public and private healthcare settings.
  5. Commonly reported barriers to implementation of the new standard were competing priorities, overwhelming workload and being unsure of what learning opportunities are available/appropriate.
  6. Between 13% and 31% (varied by Core Concept) of respondents require further guidance and education to implement the standard.

Read the Summary of Results

Blanketing Ceremony Marks New Anti-Racism Standard (2022)

Feature Indigenous Artwork (2022)

The proud display of Indigenous artwork can be a meaningful way to show respect and solidarity with Indigenous peoples in BC. Indigenous art in health care treatment spaces can create a sense of belonging, welcoming, meaning, and comfort for Indigenous peoples. COTBC encourages registrants to explore the significance of art that is Indigenous to the area where they live, work, and play, and consider displaying meaningful Indigenous art in their practice spaces.

“I am from the shishálh First Nation. For my people and family, much of our experience since colonization has been of drab, depressing, foreign medical spaces. Such environments have reinforced dynamics of racism and oppression that have been part of the experience of Indigenous peoples in the health care system. Such environments also contribute to the increased ways in which Indigenous peoples avoid necessary medical treatment altogether. So how does our Indigenous artwork alleviate these feelings? Many are unaware, but our Coast Salish artwork was and is a written language. Our history, culture, worldview, and even our laws, are codified in our art. When we bring our Indigenous artworks into a space, it does several things.

First, the presence of this art conveys that there is respect for our cultures and an acknowledgement of the people whose land the medical environment exists upon. For our people, this can help develop a level of comfort for those having to enter these institutions.

Second, the artwork can be used to convey meanings and messaging that create comfort and support in the healing process – such as around security, equality, spirituality, resilience, hope and so much more.

Third, using our Nations’ respective stories and symbolism, Indigenous artwork can convey a sense of agreement, of there being a trust, through which medical care will be offered and received.”

– Shain Niniwum Selapem Jackson (Coast Salish, shishálh First Nation), President, Spirit Works Limited & Executive Director, Golden Eagle Rising Society (In Plain Sight Report, 2020, p.124)

COTBC engaged the talents of Sage Paul, an artist of the W̱JOȽEȽP (Tsartlip) First Nation, which is one of five communities that constitute the W̱SÁNEĆ Nation. The COTBC office stands on W̱SÁNEĆ Nation territory and proudly displays Sage’s art to convey its many meanings to staff, Board and Committee members, and visitors. Sage Paul is a Coast Salish artist whose work has been featured in the Mark Loria Gallery, UVic Legacy Galleries, the Vancouver International Airport, and the Victoria Art Gallery. Learn more about Sage Paul’s background and the art she created for the College.

Sign Apology (2021)

In response to the In Plain Sight report, which detailed systemic racism against Indigenous peoples in the BC health care system, COTBC along with 10 other Health Regulatory Colleges in BC signed a Joint Statement of Apology and Commitments to Action.

Sign Declaration (2017)

On March 1, 2017, COTBC’s Registrar Kathy Corbett joined 22 other health regulatory bodies in BC to sign the Declaration of Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal Peoples in BC. This is a public acknowledgement of our commitment to improving occupational therapists’ care.

Weave IARCS&H into Quality Assurance Program ACCR (2021)

The College’s Quality Assurance Program (QAP) focuses on professional competence in relation to established standards of practice, so occupational therapists in BC can deliver safe, effective, and ethical care for the public.

Indigenous Anti-Racism Cultural Safety and Humility (IARCS&H) is woven into the QAP’s Annual Continuing Competency Review (ACCR), intended to increase awareness of racism, including systemic racism, prejudice, and discrimination experienced by Indigenous Peoples in BC’s health care system.

It is designed to encourage occupational therapists to take action to help eliminate Indigenous-specific racism and create substantive equity in health care experiences, services, and outcomes.

As part of the ACCR, occupational therapists are required to identify an annual continuing professional development goal, which can include learning more about Indigenous Cultural Safety and Humility.

Occupational therapists are responsible for creating culturally safer relationships, anti-racist and ethical spaces, and acting on situations and systems of inequality and oppression.

Voluntary Self-Identification of Indigenous Registered Occupational Therapists (2021)

As brought into disturbing focus by the recent report titled In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous Specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care (2020), there continues to be widespread systemic racism against Indigenous Peoples in the BC health care system and “this stereotyping, discrimination, and prejudice results in a range of negative impacts, harm, and even death.”

COTBC is one of 22 BC health professions who have pledged their commitment to making our health system more culturally safe for Indigenous Peoples. As part of meeting this commitment, the College wants to gather information to better understand its registrant base. Anonymized information may be shared in aggregate form with stakeholders such as the First Nations Health Authority, the Ministry of Health, universities, associations, and others to inform program development and initiatives. COTBC may also use this information to review our own processes and programs to better meet the unique needs of Indigenous Peoples, including occupational therapists in BC. For those occupational therapists that optionally self-identify as Indigenous, the College asks if they would be interested in being contacted by the College regarding opportunities to provide their input and perspectives on regulatory issues.

Develop Land Acknowledgement Policy (2021)

It is respectfully acknowledged that prior to the European settlement in and colonization of the country now known as Canada, the First Peoples were thriving and living autonomously under their own governance, which included practising Indigenous methods of healthcare, having lived on this land since time immemorial. To pay respect to the Indigenous history of this land, with the generous support of the College of Dental Hygienists of BC (CDHBC), COTBC adopted a policy that outlines the protocol for the host of any COTBC meeting, event, or presentation to conduct what is called a land acknowledgement. The goal of this policy is to encourage and guide all Board, Committee members and staff to acknowledge the First Peoples on whose traditional territories COTBC stands and works. Please contact the College if you would like further information.

Adopt Protocol for Working with Elders & Knowledge Carriers (2021)

COTBC holds great reverence to the Elders and Knowledge Carriers of the Indigenous communities in what is now called Canada. Elders and Knowledge Carriers bring with them the knowledge and teachings passed down since time immemorial and COTBC is deeply honoured to have any opportunity to work with and be in the presence of Elders and Knowledge Carriers. Building on the work of CDHBC, COTBC adopted a protocol to guide working with Elders and Knowledge Carriers in a culturally safe and respectful manner.