Establishment of the FNHDA
The First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) is one of four governance pillars outlined in the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan:
The First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) was registered as a legal entity in April 2010, although the idea of such an association was borne many years prior. The registration of the FNHDA accomplished a long-held dream of many First Nations Health Directors in British Columbia. Health Directors have for many years managed and overseen a range of services and programs for their communities – based in diverse health facilities, with programs largely funded by Health Canada – First Nations and Inuit Health (FNIH).
The purpose of the First Nations Health Directors Association is to build a better health system from the ground up. Collectively, BC First Nations Health Directors have a wealth of information, capacity, and solutions to the population health issues in First Nations communities. An association for First Nations Health Directors will advance health planning and service delivery on behalf of First Nations in British Columbia.
In June 2008, the Health Council put out a general call to establish a planning committee for the 2008 Health Directors Forum. A committee was established representing health directors from a mix of rural, remote, transferred and integrated First Nations. The committee held a number of meetings over the summer and set the direction for the 2008 First Nations Health Directors Forum.
The Health Directors Forum was attended by over 100 BC First Nations health directors. At the Forum, Health Directors discussed the key structural components of a new FNHDA including Potential Models, Type of Organization, Membership, and the Role of Association. Based on the feedback gathered at the forum a survey was issued to all First Nations Health Directors. The survey served to further refine the proposed model for the Association.
In order to validate the data collected through the forum and the survey, the First Nations Health Directors Sub-committee presented and put to a vote the proposed model during the 2009 Gathering Wisdom Forum. On November 5th, 2009 ninety-one (91) health directors cast their ballots, 79 in favor of the proposed model and 12 opposed. Following the vote a 13 member regionally representative board of directors was appointed with directors from each of the five regions in British Columbia including: the North (3 seats), Interior (3), Vancouver Island (3), Vancouver Coastal (2), and Fraser (2) regions.
The Association was incorporated in April of 2010 and ratified the FNHDA Terms of Reference and FNHDA Strategic Plan in January 2011.
As the four pillars continue to develop, the role of the FNHDA and its relationship to the other three pillars of a new First Nations Health governing structure will continue to evolve. The roles of the three First Nations governance components and their respective membership structure are outlined in the diagram below.
First Nations health directors are an integral part of their communities, bringing a wealth of real-world experience to their role of securing and managing health services for individuals and families. The challenges vary, depending on the location of the community, but the work requires the experience, dedication, and resourcefulness of individual health directors, who often work in isolation.
A few years ago, several First Nations health directors began the journey towards creating their own professional association. They recognized that a circle of support could help them be more effective in their roles by offering a forum to share the stories and needs of their communities, and most importantly, by providing a voice for them in emerging discussions on changing the delivery of health services to the First Nations of BC.
In the works for over a decade, the First Nations Health Directors Association was created by health directors, for health directors. Formally incorporated in 2010, the First Nations Health Directors Association (FNHDA) is one of four governance pillars created to support the transformation of the delivery of health services to BC First Nations.
At its inception, the FNHDA created a visual symbol that recalls the link to the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) by featuring the head of the eagle, which also appears in the FNHC logo. The eagle represents the Association as a source of wisdom and courage. A sacred, wise and noble creature, the eagle also has great vision, with the ability to see things from its vantage point that others can’t see.
Today, the FNHDA works in partnership with the First Nations Health Authority and the First Nations Health Council and collaborates with regional health authorities and other health providers and professional associations.
The FNHDA continues to evolve and strengthen its role in shaping the future of First Nations health services. The Association seeks to use its experience and unique perspective to help transform the health care system and contribute to improvements that will benefit all British Columbians.