COVID19 has laid bare to the world what most Indigenous Peoples have already known since colonial influence. Racism, oppression, historical legacies and government polices continue to perpetuate the ongoing state of Indigenous Peoples‘ health inequities in many Indigenous communities. Indigenous Peoples carry an inordinate burden of health issues and suffer the worst health of any group in Canada. Beyond that, Indigenous Peoples experience the poorest living conditions, inequitable access to education, food, employment and healthcare/health services in a country that reliably ranks in the top ten on the United Nations human development index. Inequitable access leads to the worst health outcomes but most importantly racism has been identified as the major factor in creating and reinforcing these disparities. This racism is rooted in our colonial history and the processes that have – and continue to – disconnect Indigenous communities from their lands, languages, and cultures. We recognize that this pattern is similar in other colonized countries including the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Brazil, India and many other countries.
In this presentation I will focus on the concept of cultural safety, how it can address the impacts of colonization, intergenerational trauma and the burden of health issues that Indigenous Peoples carry. Moreover, I will provide a concrete example of cultural safety that has been mobilized at the direction of the communities we serve - the Protecting Our Home Fires strategy. This model is rooted in self-determination, strengths based, community driven priorities and incorporates the principles of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) - this despite the fact systemic racism is invariably the leading cause of ill-health for Indigenous Peoples globally.