FIRST NATIONS, ABORIGINAL, MÉTIS

Joint statement on B.C. Indigenous human rights legislation passing unanimously
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

November 26, 2019

Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation; Regional Chief Terry Teegee, BC Assembly of First Nations; Cheryl Casimer, First Nations Summit; Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, Union of BC Indian Chiefs; and Adam Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and the Islands and member of Tsartlip First Nation, have issued the following statement:

“Today, we have made history. British Columbia is the first province in Canada to enshrine the human rights of Indigenous peoples in law. Bill 41, the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples act, passed unanimously on Tuesday, Nov. 26, 2019.

“The legislation establishes the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as the foundational framework for reconciliation in B.C., as called for by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The provincial government developed Bill 41 in collaboration with the First Nations Leadership Council, which was acting on the direction of First Nations leaders throughout the province. A commitment to adopting the Declaration is a component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement between the B.C. government and the BC Green Party caucus.

“This legislation advances a path forward to true reconciliation for all of us in B.C. that will uphold Indigenous rights and create stronger communities, stable jobs and economic growth.

“It is time we recognize and safeguard Indigenous peoples’ human rights, so that we may finally move away from conflict, drawn-out court cases and uncertainty, and move forward with collaboration and respect. Ensuring that Indigenous peoples are part of the policy-making and decision-making processes that affect them, their families and their territories is how we will create more certainty and opportunity for Indigenous peoples, B.C. businesses, communities and families everywhere.

“Any future changes to bring provincial laws into harmony with the UN Declaration will be done in consultation and collaboration with Indigenous peoples, with opportunities for engagement with local governments and stakeholders such as business and industry. Changes won’t happen overnight – this will be a gradual, step-by-step process over time.

“The development of an action plan – in collaboration with Indigenous peoples – with regular reporting to monitor progress will provide a transparent and accountable path forward on reconciliation in B.C.

“Working together, we have made significant progress in the past two years and we have seen critical advancements with affordable housing, child welfare, language revitalization and revenue sharing. This legislation will help us build upon this progress and make a real, meaningful difference in the lives of Indigenous families and everyone in B.C.”

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Results Released from Expanded First Nations Health and Wellness Survey

Coast Salish Territory – The First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) has released the results of the most comprehensive First Nations health and wellness survey ever carried out in the province.

The First Nations Regional Health Survey (RHS)​ is the only First Nations-led and governed, nationally-representative population health and wellness survey. This survey, the largest one to incorporate First Nations perspectives on health and wellness, asked about traditional wellness and community strengths in addition to health care access and chronic diseases.

The third phase of the RHS, conducted from 2015 to 2017, collected data from nearly 6,000 respondents from 122 communities. The FNHA heard from community members and regional leaders that they needed high-quality data that could inform evidence-based policy, programs and services. To meet this need, the FNHA funded an expansion of the survey that nearly doubled the number of participating First Nations communities and individuals compared to previous phases of the survey. Due to the expansion, the RHS results are being shared for the first time at the regional level, with one report for each of the five FNHA regions in addition to the provincial report. This fulfils the FNHA’s commitment to return community-generated information to support each region’s health and wellness planning.

“This takes the control out of the hands of institutions and gives it back to the people, which is really aligned with what we are trying to do as an organization,” said Sonia Isaac-Mann, Vice-President of Programs and Services at the FNHA.

The latest survey incorporated new questions that looked more closely at both the social determinants of health and the use of traditional healing practices. This helped to shift the focus away from looking at illness to a wellness-based approach.

“It is time we started looking at how well we are, what is protective, and how we resist poor health,” said Dr. Evan Adams, Chief Medical Officer for the FNHA. “What we do is related to how we’re doing. Time spent connecting to the land, and enjoying traditional diets and ceremonial practices continue to form the foundations of physical, mental, spiritual and emotional well-being.”

The FNHA will now look to reassess priorities as a result of the survey findings. There is a clear preference for more support for traditional healing and wellness practices that build on First Nations knowledge, beliefs, values, practices, medicines and models of health and wellness.

What is next for the RHS?

In keeping with the principles of OCAP®, every First Nations community in BC received printed copies of the regional and provincial reports before the public release of the reports. The RHS team will share the results and gather feedback this fall at regional and community events across the province.

Are you interested in finding out more about how the RHS data can support your community or organization’s planning and decision-making? Contact us at RHS@FNHA.ca.

The FNHA has already committed to the fourth RHS and is planning to begin data collection in the fall of 2020. 

By the Numbers:

• 5,739 province-wide participants

732 Fraser Salish, 1,742 Interior, 1,174 Northern, 794 Vancouver Coastal, 1,297 Vancouver Island

1,515 Children (0-11), 1,198 Youth (12-17), 1,509 Adults (18-54), 1,517 Older Adults (55+)

• 122 Communities

• 204 questions in 26 sections

• 48 data collectors trained from First Nations communities

•​ Provincially:​​​

o 70% of adults said they had often eaten traditional foods in the last year

o 43% of adults said they had used traditional medicine in the past year

o 82% of adults said their mental health was good, very good, or excellent 

o 84% of adults said they felt a strong sense of belonging to their community

o Adults identified their top three determinants of good health as diet, sleep and social supports

o About 5% of the respondents under age 55 speak a traditional language to at least intermediate level

o 41% of adults and 13% of youth smoke tobacco, although rates have continued to decline

o​ 77% of adults participate in at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week