Nine BC health profession regulatory colleges, including The College of Optometrists of BC, have jointly released a comprehensive progress report outlining Indigenous cultural safety, humility, and anti-racism activities in the two years since signing a Statement of Apology and Commitment to Action.
The release of this Joint Apology and Commitment to Action 2021-2023 Report coincides with and recognizes Orange Shirt Day and National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, both on September 30, 2023. This day also marks the one-year anniversary of the ceremony held with 11 BC health profession regulatory colleges to launch the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Standard of Practice.
Background to the report
On July 27, 2021, registrars from 11 BC health profession regulatory colleges gathered with an Indigenous leader, Knowledge Carrier, and witnesses in a ceremony to sign the Joint Statement of Apology and Commitment to Action (PDF) in response to the In Plain Sight report (PDF) that provided evidence of stereotyping, discrimination, racism, and abuse experienced by Indigenous people accessing the BC health care system.
Since then, the colleges have initiated and completed a number of activities that demonstrate their accountability to Indigenous peoples and contribute to the important work of dismantling systemic Indigenous racism in healthcare. The Joint Apology and Commitment to Action 2021-2023 Report states: “In 2021 we committed to report on the work and progress we are making. In this report, we describe the actions we have taken to uphold this commitment, to be accountable to and transparent with Indigenous peoples who have shown courage and vulnerability in coming forward with their stories. Our intention is to demonstrate relational accountability in this way to create and maintain authentic and reciprocal relationships with Indigenous communities and to ensure that this work continues.”
Nine colleges – regulating the practice of chiropractors, dietitians, naturopathic physicians, occupational therapists, opticians, optometrists, physical therapists, speech and hearing health professionals, and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners and acupuncturists – provided information about their activities to include in the report. Indigenous partners provided feedback on the report in three rounds of reviews.
In the July 2021 Commitment to Action, colleges committed to working together on cultural safety, humility, and anti-racism initiatives. The Colleges have taken steps collaboratively, including the following examples:
- Cultural safety, humility, and anti-racism training: Colleges have participated in a range of joint learning opportunities for staff, Board, and committee members.
- Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Standard of Practice: On September 30, 2022, 11 BC health profession regulatory colleges, including the College of Optometrists of BC, launched the Indigenous Cultural Safety, Humility, and Anti-Racism Standard of Practice. The colleges adapted the standard of practice from the standard that the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM) and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC (CPSBC) collaboratively developed and launched in February 2022. The standard launched in September 2022 sets clear expectations for how registrants of the colleges are to provide culturally safe and anti-racist care for Indigenous patients. In February 2023, colleges circulated a survey on the standard to registrants. The survey results will inform future training needs and delivery methods.
Colleges have also taken steps as individual organizations, including the following examples outlined in the Joint Apology and Commitment to Action 2021-2023 Report:
- Fostering a speak-up culture: The In Plain Sight report recommended strengthening speak-up culture so health care system employees can identify and disclose information relating to Indigenous-specific racism. Two colleges have included content related to Indigenous cultural safety, humility, and anti-racism, and speak-up culture in their Board manuals and codes of conduct for Board and committee members.
- Improving data collection: Seven colleges provide registrants the opportunity to self-identify as Indigenous at registration or renewal.
- Indigenous representation: Three colleges, including the College of Optometrists, have Indigenous representation on their Boards and committees.
- Cultural safety, humility, and anti-racism training: In addition to joint learning with other colleges, individual colleges have offered training and workshop opportunities for staff, Board, and committee members with Indigenous Knowledge Carriers and consultants.
The college recognizes that we are at the beginning of a lifelong journey that is personal and professional, individual and collective … We remain committed to this work, recognizing that we must be persistent in acknowledging and dismantling historic and ongoing Indigenous-specific racism everywhere that it exists.
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