COTBC Observes National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Thursday, September 30, 2021, will mark Canada’s first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation “to commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools and to honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.”

The September 30 date is also observed as Orange Shirt Day, promoting recognition of the colonial legacy of residential schools and commitment to the ongoing process of reconciliation.

Our office will be closed on September 30 in observation of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. On this day, staff will gather together to learn more about the tragic and painful history of residential schools and their ongoing impacts.

We encourage registrants to learn more about Cultural Safety and Humility. Visit BC Health Regulators’ website for a list of key learning resources.

BC Health Regulators Sign Statement of Apology for Indigenous Racism in BC Health Care

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

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.

Progress on our 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.