First Nations/Aboriginal/Métis

In Plain Sight

Addressing Indigenous-specific and Racism in B.C. Health care

Emotional Trigger Warning

This report discusses topics that, for Indigenous peoples, may trigger memories of culturally unsafe personal experiences or such experiences of their friends, family, and community. The report is intended to explore the prejudice and discrimination experienced by Indigenous people in the health care system and to make Recommendations that will help eliminate Indigenous- specific racism and create substantive equity in health care experiences, services and outcomes. However, the content may trigger unpleasant feelings or thoughts of past abuse. First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples who require emotional support can contact the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line and On-line Counselling Service toll-free at 1-855-242-3310 or through hopeforwellness.ca. The Métis Crisis Line is available 24 hours
a day at 1-833-MétisBC (1-833-638-4722). And the KUU-US Crisis line is available
24/7 at 1-800-588-8717 to provide support to Indigenous people in B.C. For more information, visit: kuu-uscrisisline.ca

On June 19, 2020, I was appointed by British Columbia’s Minister of Health, the Hon. Adrian Dix, to conduct a review of Indigenous-speci c racism in the provincial health care system.

I acknowledge that the resulting Addressing Racism Review has taken place on the territories of First Nations peoples in B.C., and I also recognize the courage and determination shown by thousands of Indigenous people across the province who shared their experiences within the health care system to inform this report.

In addition, I want to acknowledge the work of the skilled, Indigenous-led team who supported the complex and urgent Review that provided the basis for this report. And I would like to thank the First Nations Health Authority, First Nations Health Council and Métis Nation BC for their strong support during the process. I also express my gratitude to the team at the Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre at University of British Columbia who provided collegial support and research to assist in the preparation of the Report.

Finally, I acknowledge that British Columbians and the B.C. health care system are dealing with two pressing public health emergencies – the opioid overdose crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the immense challenges and pressures created by these health emergencies, thousands of health care workers – along with their leaders and organizations – found the time to participate in this Review. I thank them for that, and for their dedication to confronting the matters raised in this report and committing to implement the Recommendations.

Hon. Dr. M.E. Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe)Independent Reviewer


Racism against Indigenous peoples is a malignant disease that has been in the health care system in British Columbia since inception. Every person who works in the health care system, in fact every British Columbian, must acknowledge this reality and work together to ensure health care for Indigenous people is equitable and culturally safe and focusses on the needs of the individual, not the attitudes of the system. It is a glaring fact that Indigenous peoples encounter racism on a regularbasis in the health care system and we need an e ective mechanism orcomplaint process to bring the issue to light and have it addressed. First Nations in British Columbia must be protected from all forms of racial discrimination in seeking health care. Racism is not just hurtful wordsor ideas – in health care, it leaves Indigenous peoples su ering withoutproper care. In the moment when you need health care, it is too much of a burden to put on the backs of First Nations peoples, having todeal with this racism. That is not compassionate, it is cruel and painful.

~ Grand Chief Stewart Phillip President, Union of BC Indian Chiefs

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About these Serv​​ices

The First Nations Health Authority offers a variety of virtual health care services to First Nations people in BC who have limited access to health care services in their communities, who must travel long distances for appointments or whose access to health care has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The FNHA works with health care professionals to ensure that services are aligned with the principles and practices of cultural safety and humility and trauma-informed care. The FNHA also actively recruits specialists with Indigenous ancestry.  

Maternity and Babies Advic​​e Line 

The Maternity and Babies Advice Line​ provides services to expectant mothers and new parents, guardians or caregivers of newborn babies in rural and remote First Nations communities in BC. Family members and healthcare providers can also receive support.

Mental Health Cou​​​nselling

First Nations Health Benefits provides coverage for clients to attend virtual and in-person counselling sessions. See Mental Health in Health Benefits (or view a list of approved mental health providers). 

Telehe​​alth

Your appointment with your doctor or specialist is done through video conferencing. You do not need to travel away from your home. See Telehealth.

Virtual Doctor of th​e Day

Doctors are on call seven days a week to provide medical advice, prescriptions and referrals. See Virtual Doctor of the Day.  

Virtual Substance Use & Ps​ychiatry Services

Specialists in addictions medicine and psychiatry are on call weekdays to support individuals and their family members with more complex mental health needs. The service requires a referral from a health care provider such as a doctor, nurse, mental health counsellor or traditional healer, or through the First Nations Virtual Doctor of the Day service. See Virtual Substance Use and Psychiatry Services