June is National Indigenous History Month – a time to honour and celebrate the diverse and rich heritage of First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities. Every year on June 21, National Indigenous People’s Day is also held to correspond with the time of Summer Solstice (this year falling on June 20) and a time during which many First Nations communities celebrate the beginning of summer and honouring the Grandfather Sun.
Women’s College Hospital is committed to equity and removing barriers for diverse groups, including the original First Peoples of these lands. The Centre for Wise Practices in Indigenous Health (CWP-IH) at Women’s College is a core component of actualizing our commitment to forging the trust and building the relationships crucial to reconciliatory transformation within our organization.
Throughout June, the CWP-IH has collaborated on creating a virtual resource space with their partners UHN Indigenous Health & Social Medicine, The Indigenous Cancer Care Program, Ontario Health (Toronto) and U of T’s Office of Indigenous Health. The space shares a calendar that highlights several amazing initiatives and events to mark National Indigenous History Month and Indigenous People’s Day. The activities provide the opportunity to participate in ongoing specialized Indigenous Cultural Safety Training initiatives and education, support Indigenous-led and Indigenous community-centered Anti-Indigenous Racism and Oppression Action Items, and choose actions to advance truth and reconciliation. These virtual events will include giveaways and a free botanical art download. Further details will be announced soon! In the meantime, click here to explore the hub and learn more.
While this is a time to uplift Indigenous brilliance, it’s also important to acknowledge that celebrating National Indigenous History Month is incredibly difficult as Indigenous community members continue to experience ongoing trauma, violence and anti-Indigenous racism, including the recent discovery of the unmarked, hidden remains of 215 children at a former residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory and the inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan.
Meaningful celebration of Indigenous History Month and People’s Day must include More Than Words. More Than Words was an action filled, humble movement that began at the outset of the pandemic last year, and has grown this year. We must take action by doing more than standing in solidarity with Indigenous, Afro-Indigenous, Two-Spirit, gender diverse and Black community members. As allies, we are on a shared journey and the CWP-IH has many resources to help guide us as we commit to doing the work, and making good on our own action items, with additional resources on More Than Words.
Together, we can build a health system that acknowledges and respects Indigenous identity and understands trauma, while also respecting the sophistication of Indigenous knowledge, healing and governance practices. We can provide culturally safe care, free of racism and discrimination – where Indigenous worldviews are recognized and valued.