OSOYOOS – Members of the First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) met in Osoyoos on March 7-10, 2012 for a provincial training and networking session to collaborate and move forward on their mandate to support their Health Directors in elevating the health of First Nations people in BC.
The four-day event had professional development training in positive engagement, provincial Health Actions updates, focus groups on specific community issues, furthering the path of direction and leadership from the FNHDA, and special guest Okanagan Elder Modesta Betterton offering insight, prayers and stressing the value of the work ahead.
The session also included a video address by Chief Clarence Louie, speeches from Union of BC Indian Chiefs Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, First Nations Health Council Chair Grand Chief Doug Kelly and capped off with a traditional Okanagan knowledge session by University of BC Okanagan Indigenous studies program professor Bill Cohen. The Osoyoos session provided Health Directors with the space to share successes and best practices within their communities. Plenty of positive feedback was received and the FNHDA is now eagerly anticipating the coming Gathering Wisdom V where the FNHDA will have a full day to collaborate with the Health Actions Team on communicating up-to-date information and educational updates to BC First Nations.
“It’s a very exciting time for us, we’re always learning what works and doesn’t work and applying that in our work. The organization is still evolving very much and there’s still a lot of work to be done yet,” said FNHDA President Judith Gohn. “All our Health Directors are working on the ground level within communities and Community Engagement Hubs. There’s lots of networking going on within the FNHDA and all First Nations communities.”
Gohn mentioned that the FNHDA has been invited to be on the planning committee for the coming national First Nations Health Managers Association conference in Vancouver this September. She is also very excited about moving forward on the Health Directors competency certification within the FNHDA. The ‘World Café’ Health Actions focus groups during the Osoyoos meeting was a highlight for many of the Health Directors who were workers who work long hours in demanding positions need to put their own health as a priority to continue their work and set healthy examples. Departing Executive Director Deborah Schwartz was also acknowledged by the FNHDA Board of Directors and Health Directors for her work through an honouring ceremony and prayer song.
“The year flew by for me, but I am proud that I was able to work with the Board to formalize our policies and processes, increase our membership from 45 to 106 and build an excellent team of Anne Heyes, Valerie Birdgeneau and June Halliday. We still have so much to do, we’re just getting given the opportunity to gather with other Directors to discuss and move forward on a number of specific issues directly affecting First Nations communities. The groups were organized around the seven Health Actions cluster areas. Health Actions works for health systems transformation, developed capacity, working relationships and community-driven processes that give increased First Nations authority over health.
An important message was reinforced throughout the meetings that all health care started,” said Schwartz. “I will watch with eagerness as the FNHDA develops its website this year, providing an interactive forum for health directors to network, share ideas, exchange best practices and tools and templates for community wellness planning and I know the FNHDA and health directors have a big role this year working with its partners the FNHC and iFNHA providing advice and support from the community, based on your excellent and valuable experience as health directors.”