Indigenous History Month & Day: More than words

June 17, 2020
More Than Words

Celebrating both National Indigenous History and PRIDE this month has been difficult during these incredibly confronting times. While we always endeavor to uplift Indigenous excellence, we are currently focusing on stepping right out of our comfort zones, having sobering discussions and mobilizing our anti-racism and oppression action-planning that must continue to grow within our organization.

We know that many of you may be feeling overwhelmed in seeing and acknowledging the systemic, ongoing racism within our own country and all of the police brutality and killings of Indigenous and Black community members. However, it is critical for us to recognize and take action up to mirror our words of solidarity and support for BIPOC QT2S (Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Queer, Trans and Two-Spirit) folx.

It is equally critical for us to recognize with our actions that these times are deeply triggering, angering and despairing for our BIPOC QT2S peers, colleagues, learners, community members and partners. The burden to educate is not (solely) theirs. We must educate ourselves. Equally relevant is the 1-year anniversary of the inquiry and report into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls that just passed. Last week, The Native Women’s Association of Canada released their Report Card assessing the government’s response and created a list of recommendations of how they can do better. They are now working with the Gov’t to produce a #MMIWG plan. Find it here.

As many know, WCH takes a solid stand in equity and diversity for all, while highly cognizant of the requirement for specialized Indigenous Cultural Safety Training initiatives, programming, services and educational opportunities.

The development of The Centre For Wise Practices in Indigenous Health (CWP-IH) at WCH has been a core component to actualizing our executive commitment to forging the trust and building relationships so crucial to reconciliatory transformation within our organization. As such, and through these peer relationships we have been reminded that the violence we are seeing is not new and that the initiatives spearheaded by the CWP-IH and supported by WCH executive span well outside of a singular month or day. It is a small yet robust team who have been managing COVID care, relationships and referral networks for urban Indigenous folx. You can read an update here, on the growth and ways in which the CWP-IH has pivoted with WCH COVID care teams during the pandemic.

Celebrating Indigenous History Month & People’s Day (June 21) includes standing in solidarity with Black and Afro-Indigenous community members, having critical discussions, action-planning, providing administrative support and capacity building towards Indigenous-led and Indigenous community-centered Anti-Indigenous Racism & Oppression Action Items such as what’s been ongoing, with more than words:

1.  67 WCH clinicians, staff (including leadership) have registered for the Ontario Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Certification, with seats generously funded in partnership with the CWP-IH and the Indigenous Primary Health Care Council through LHIN

  • The is the second wave of WCH staff to do this training and another wave will be offered in the Fall/Winter of 2020/21

2.  The Centre For Wise Practices has been facilitating bi-weekly, (introductory) Indigenous Trauma-Informed & Cultural Safety Relations sessions.

  • The next one is on June 24th 12 – 1:30 PM, with a break in July and bi-weekly sessions beginning again in August (5th 12 – 1:30 PM)
  • If you would like to register please email
    *Seats are capped at 10 people per session with a focus on relationship building

3. CWP-IH inter and outer org COVID-Care partnerships have developed immensely to include our Mobile Testing Team to joining the Anishnawbe Health ‘Mobile Healing RV’ Team with our own Dr. Lisa Richardson, Ashinaabekwe Lead of Indigenous Health at WCH joining both teams as a clinician. On June 15th Dr Richardson was announced as Lead Medical Physician Services.

4.  Members of the CWP-IH will be joining the newWCH Equity Counciland engaging in the Anti-Racism initiative planning to develop an organizational anti-racism and anti-oppression strategy and action

5.  CWP-IH has partnered with Well Living House, (Indigenous Research Centre at Unity Health) in a number of ways, most recently in an Indigenous Health Services application of a We Count COVID-19 initiative revolving around Indigenous-led COVID health responses led by Dr Janet Smylie. Smylie has been recently appointed to lead the charge in assessing the pandemic’s impact on people who live both on- and off-reserve

  • CWP-IH and WCH overall is immensely committed to increasing Indigenous-based data collection focusing on the impacts of colonialism and racism as major contributors to the disparities in healthcare and education that Indigenous peoples historically and presently face while honouring Indigenous Self Determination In Research:

a. OCAP (Ownership, Collaboration, Access and Possession of Data)
b. Principles of ethical Metis Research
c. National Inuit Strategy of Research (ITK)
d. Developing ceremonial research agreements
e. Tri-Council Policy (statement around research with Indigenous peoples)

6.  CWP-IH members have received immense and solid support from the WCH Foundation to find funding for two new CWP-IH roles: Indigenous Evaluation Lead and (2) Indigenous Educator

7.  Indigenous Spiritual, Emotional and Mental wellness support is available 3 days weekly with our Elder-in-residence Senator Constance:

Mon, Wed, Fri: 1-4 PM
E: -or- call: 647-378-2411 to set-up an immediate appointment

You can also find these supports on the WCH Intranet and our Employee and Family Assistance Program 

8.  Monthly, creative ZOOM workshops and panel discussions are streamed live to the CWP-IH’s Facebook pagewith Cree Knowledge Keeper and CWP-IH Student Rosary Spence, our Métis Elder-In-Residence, Senator Constance Simmonds.

To our dedicated allies who are wondering, “what else can I do?”

1. Strengths-Based Connections:
Ontario Regional Chief Roseanne Archibald recently announced that AFN Regional Chiefs are planning to turn National Indigenous People’s Day (NIPD) on June 21 into a National Day of Action by engaging on social media and attend any major rally/march/event in your area. Follow the @WCHIndigenous and @RicharLisa on Twitter to stay interconnected, engaged and harnessing and activating your platforms for social good. Flood your feeds with content by BIPOCQT2S folx and reputable sources. Take the time.

Social Accounts: ***not an exhaustive list 

Twitter: @AncestorsFuture, @cblackst, @TanyaTalaga, @jessewente, @MelaninMvskoke, @APTNNews, @DesmondCole, @PolicingBlack, @Yellowhead_, @ricochet_en, @ericavioletlee, @IndigenousXca, @RMComedy, @NWAC_CA, @957ELMNTFM, @michifman, @TOCouncilFire, @TASSCouncil, @tijih_uoft, @UofTBMSA, @angelasterritt

Facebook: 2-Spirited People of the 1st Nations, Native Canadian Centre of Toronto, Native Women’s Resource Centre of Toronto, Seventh Generation Midwives, Think Indigenous, Anishnawbe Health,  First Nations Health Authority, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, Illuminative, Well Living House, Downie Wenjack Fund, Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres, Woodland Cultural Centre, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Métis Nation of Ontario, Nishnawbe Aski Nation, Black Lives Matter TO, Black Visions Collective

2. Visit the CWP-IH Microsite and continue your learning journey:
You will find links to guides and reports that inform the CWP-IH’s ongoing strategy, such as

  • The United Nations Declaration on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls To Action
  • The Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls
  • Bringing Reconciliation To Canada, Wise Practices For Healthcare Leaders (HealthCareCAN)
  • Indigenous Healthcare Primer (Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada)

3. Educate Yourself:

  • Virtual Sharing Circle With Afro-Indigenous Advocates (Future Ancestors Services)
    Thursday, June 18th 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT
    Tickets by registered donation
  • Webinar: The Coastal GasLink Pipeline and Indigenous Health
    Strategies of Resistance and Solidarity in the COVID-19 Era and Beyond
    Tuesday, June 23, 12pm-1:30pm
    Register: (University of Toronto Office of Inclusion & Diversity)

4. Uplift Excellence:

5. Financial Donations: