Health Directors working in First Nations communities across BC gathered on the traditional territory of the Sts’ailes Nation at Harrison Hot Springs in the Fraser Salish region on September 18-20, 2018 for the First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) Annual General Meeting (AGM) and Conference. The event consisted of sharing technical advice on service improvements, other professional development opportunities, and wellness activities. This year we had 112 members registered! The FNHDA Board of Directors would like to thank the 102 Health Director members who were able to attended and participated in the AGM, with the regional distribution of participants as follows: 17 from Fraser Salish, 32 from Interior, 21 from the North, 7 from Vancouver Coastal, and 25 from Vancouver Island.
Day one opened with a prayer from Elder Virginia Peters of Sts’ailes who is also the interim Elder Advisor for the FNHDA. This was followed by a plenary presentation on Transforming the Mental Health and Addictions System in BC with Chair of the First Nations Health Council Grand Chief Doug Kelly, FNHA CEO Joe Gallagher, Deputy Minister of the BC Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions Neilane Mayhew and Vice President of the FNHDA Keith Marshall.
Presenters shared additional information, context and conversation on the announcement made at Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey IX in May 2018 when Government of Canada, Province of British Columbia, and the FNHC signed onto a commitment to improve mental health and wellness services that support First Nations children, families and communities in BC.
After lunch, concurrent sessions were held on designing the approach for mental health and wellness funding, community wise practices on health service improvements, and First Nations employment law, as well an opportunity for some creativity therapeutic painting with Cree artist Carla Joseph.
Additional sessions included breakouts on FNHA opioid / mental health: ‘roots of trauma and breaking the silence’, and Emergency Response plans planning. The day ended with elections for regional FNHDA Board positions and included: Louella Nome (North Central), Beverley Clifton Percival (North West), Patricia Hoard (re-appointed, North East), Coreen Paul (Vancouver Coastal – South), Kimberley Laing (Fraser Salish), Shelley Lampreau (re-appointed, Interior), Kim Roberts (Vancouver Island – Kwakwaka’wakw), Charles Nelson (Vancouver Island – Coast Salish), and Vanessa Charlong (re-appointed, Vancouver Island – Nuu-chah-nulth).
The evening of day one saw Health Directors treated to dinner and entertainment from DeRic Starlight, a Comedy, Puppeteer from Tsuu T’ina First Nations, and Murray Porter, a Mohawk piano player from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory.
Day two began with a keynote on collaboration with Richard Jock, Chief Operating Officer, FNHA and Dr. Nel Wieman, Senior Medical Officer, Mental Health & Wellness, FNHA. Breakout sessions included transforming trauma traditionally, a FNHA health benefits discussion on transition of dental, vision, medical supplies & equipment benefits, and wise practices on decolonizing your health plan with Vancouver Coastal FNHDA Member Rosemary Stager.
At lunch, Canim Lake Band/White Feather Family Centre FNHDA Member Sheila Dick presented a video project her community completed titled: Circle of Life, Circle of Love on addressing HIV in a truly community-based way. Watch the video here.
Afternoon sessions included discussion on FNHA funding models, wise practices from Fraser Salish FNHDA member Janice George on Letse’mot services – a collaborative approach to cultural health services, and traditional food and medicines with Sto:lo plant expert P’eq sq’oyes Slha’:li’ (Yvette John), sharing her deep knowledge of traditional plant uses for medicine, food and technology.
Other sessions included engagement on the FNHA community health and wellness planning toolkit, FNHDA Health Directors hiring toolkit, and herbal plant uses for health and wellness with naturopathic doctor Georgia Kyba. The sharing of wise practices regarding lateral kindness with Northern FNHDA member Louella Nome closed out the day.
The evening saw Inspiration Awards given to seven Health Directors for their work in community. A traditional feast was held at the Cheam community centre where the Semoya dancers entertained the crowd, followed by the awards presentation in the Cheam longhouse.
Recipients included Teresa Johnny, Health Director from Tl’esqox (Toosey) in the area of Grounding Work within Culture and Tradition; Maria Reed, Director of Community Services with Westbank First Nation in the area of Providing Health and Wellness Leadership for the Community; Roberta Dendys, Executive Director of Community Services with Fort Nelson First Nation for Providing Informed, Technical Advice; Peggy Abou, Health Director and member of the Tsesk’iya (Crow) Clan in the area of Establishing and Maintaining Beneficial Partnerships; Monica Brown, Health Director from Old Massett for Providing Effective Health Administration; Lee-Anne Hunsbedt, Health Manager from Fraser Thompson Indian Services Society for Being a Supportive Manager and a Health Team Leader; and Audrey Smith, Health Director with Nuchatlaht First Nation for Participating Actively in Professional Development and Continuous Learning.
To start off the final day, FNHDA Years of Service Pins were handed out to Health Directors to acknowledge their years of service as Health Directors in the following categories: 1 year; 5 years; 10 years; 15 years; 20 years; and 25 years or more. Next, the FNHDA AGM was held, which included the presentation of the FNHDA Annual Board Report & Financial Statement and special resolutions on the updated FNHDA Constitution and Bylaws, which were unanimously accepted by members. The AGM concluded with the announcement of the FNHDA Board of Directors elections results, the appointment of new Directors, and the annual Oath of Office ceremony.