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Including, consulting and engaging First Nations communities is central to all Network activities. Our work is rooted in the knowledge that colonialism has had direct and ongoing negative impacts on the health and well-being of First Nations people and communities, as noted by the FNHA: “Government policies of assimilation, including the Indian Act, residential schools, and Indian hospitals, were designed to forcibly separate families, eliminate cultures, and disempower communities” (FNHA and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report).

“The legacy from the schools and the political and legal policies and mechanisms surrounding their history continue to this day. This is reflected in the significant educational, income, health, and social disparities between Aboriginal people and other Canadians. It is reflected in the intense racism some people harbour against Aboriginal people and in the systemic and other forms of discrimination Aboriginal people regularly experience in this country. It is reflected too in the critically endangered status of most Aboriginal languages. Current conditions such as the disproportionate apprehension of Aboriginal children by child-welfare agencies and the disproportionate imprisonment and victimization of Aboriginal people can be explained in part as a result or legacy of the way that Aboriginal children were treated in residential schools and were denied an environment of positive parenting, worthy community leaders, and a positive sense of identity and self-worth” (Honoring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future).

The Network is committed to engaging First Nations communities in all decision-making processes, providing respectful and culturally safe spaces for dialogue, and supporting the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Recommendations. The importance of respectful dialogue, active engagement, and genuine cultural safety was identified as a priority for the Network at both Network Forums in 2015.

Data sources: Strathcona Community Health Network Forum Report (June 2015), Strathcona Community Health Network Forum Report (November 2015), Island Health LHA Report 84, Island Health LHA Report 72, Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Report: Calls to Action (2015), Honoring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future: Summary of the Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (2015), First Nations Health Authority and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (2015).