The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) recognizes National Indigenous History Month, a time to reflect on the history, achievements and resilience of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
As we examine history, we must acknowledge that the health disparities Indigenous Peoples continue to face today are rooted in a legacy of colonization and ongoing racism in Canada. Indigenous Peoples are more likely than other Canadians to experience persistent poverty, food insecurity and barriers to housing and education — key contributors to chronic illnesses and other health challenges. They also face poor access to health services, particularly in remote communities; anti-Indigenous racism in health systems; and a lack of cultural safety and broad acceptance of Indigenous health and healing models in our current health care systems.
We are in the midst of a shift in which Indigenous communities are making remarkable strides toward improving health outcomes and creating a thriving future. There is a growing recognition that building sustainably funded health infrastructure, grounded in cultural wisdom and community approaches, is how Indigenous communities will create solutions that support lasting health improvements.
The CMA is committed to advancing Indigenous-led reconciliation in health care in allyship with Indigenous Peoples. In support of this commitment, the CMA recently adopted an ambitious Indigenous health goal developed in collaboration with a Guiding Circle of First Nations, Inuit and Métis leaders, community advocates and knowledge-keepers:
Achieve measurable, on-going improvements in health and wellness, supported by a transformed health system that is free of racism and discrimination; upholds Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination; values, respects and holds safe space for Indigenous worldviews, medicine and healing practices; and provides equitable access to culturally safe, trauma-informed care for all First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
This goal will be the lens through which the CMA supports the future health of Indigenous Peoples and an early step in our long road to reconciliation. As the voice of Canada’s physicians, the CMA is committed to taking the steps to rebuild trust, resolve differences, heal harm and restore relationships with Indigenous patients, families, communities and Nations. A better future will not arrive until we create it together.
Please join us this National Indigenous History Month as we continue to reflect, learn and grow together.
Dr. Alika Lafontaine
President, Canadian Medical Association