September 29, 2023

Although health care is for everyone, it is not the same for everyone

Message from the President & CEO

September 25–30, 2023, marks Truth and Reconciliation Week in Canada. While we know September 30 as the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and Orange Shirt Day, truth and reconciliation must be a year-round commitment.

It is important that everyone in our community has safe, accessible health care, whenever they need it. Yet, there are still inequalities in our health care system.

We know we need to do better. Prioritizing equity means that we work to build a health care system that meets the unique needs of specific populations. It means recognizing the wisdom of Indigenous wellness practices and Indigenous expertise in their own lives.

Indigenous Health is a key priority area for Calgary Health Foundation. We have a lot to learn about how we can best support Indigenous-led health initiatives, and it is important that there are strong Indigenous voices at the table to guide us forward.

Through ongoing and active engagement with Alberta Health Services’ Indigenous Wellness Core and local Indigenous partners, we are working to create a culture of mutual trust, which will improve the health experiences and outcomes for Indigenous patients and families across our province.

One example of how we have been working to incorporate culturally conscious care is through the Elbow River Healing Lodge, the only Indigenous-focused primary care clinic in Calgary. Visit our webpage to learn more about the important working happening at the Elbow River Healing Lodge and watch an interview with Traditional Wellness Counsellor Duane Mistaken Chief.

Calgary Health Foundation is also actively raising funds to build Indigenous Healing Gardens at hospitals and urgent care centres across Alberta in places like Calgary, Strathmore, High River, and Didsbury. These gardens will provide access to sacred medicines such as sweetgrass, saskatoons, mint, and sage. By embedding traditional and cultural health care practices into AHS facilities, we can foster open dialogue with those unfamiliar with Indigenous medicine and improve the health outcomes of Indigenous people.  

Reconciliation starts with education. Calgary Health Foundation is committed to supporting our employees, board members, and volunteers in seeking knowledge and understanding as they continue forward on their learning journeys.

If you are looking for a way to advance your own learning journey, here are a few suggestions:

  1. Wear an orange shirt to symbolize the harm done to residential school students and their families and to show a commitment to the principle that every child matters.
  2. Explore learning resources about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people across Canada, provided by the Government of Canada.
  3. Learn more about Indigenous culture and history in Canada by signing up for the University of Alberta’s free online Indigenous Canada course.
  4. Visit the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation webpage to learn about news and events and access educational resources.
  5. Watch this 25-minute video with Bob Joseph, 21 things you may not know about the Indian Act.
  6. Download the commemorative promotional resources available on the Government of Canada website and share how you will mark this day using the hashtag #NDTR on social media.
  7. Learn more by reading the Statement by the Prime Minister on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Although health care is for everyone, it is not the same for everyone. We need to consider how we make our hospitals and care centres more welcoming of Indigenous people, incorporating ancestral ways, and honouring Indigenous knowledge.

By breaking down the barriers to health care, we lay the groundwork as a community for individuals and families to live happy and healthy lives in Alberta. 

Murray Sigler
President & CEO
Calgary Health Foundation

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