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FFYFP Blog – Honouring National Indigenous History Month

By: Dr. Amanda Wang 

Spring finished springing and summer has finally arrived. It’s wild to think we are already in June; time has really flown by this year. With the arrival of June comes National Indigenous History Month (NIHM). June also happens to usher in the beginning of Pride Season. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight NIHM and the significance of finding some time for learning and self-reflection, not just for the benefit of our Indigenous communities but for our collective journey towards reconciliation and mutual understanding. 

I encourage you to set aside even a spot of time to intentionally ruminate on the ongoing inequities in healthcare access and delivery faced by Indigenous peoples. We all know significant disparities still exist despite efforts to improve Indigenous health outcomes. As healthcare providers, we also know we play a pivotal role in dismantling systemic barriers by advocating for culturally safe environments. We need to continue to engage in confronting our biases, practice cultural humility, and actively listen to the needs and experiences of Indigenous patients. 

Some other non-clinical avenues that I, as a non-Indigenous physician, try to undertake include supporting Indigenous-led initiatives aimed at addressing social determinants of health (like The Moose Hide Campaign). And if like me, you are involved in governance or policy, we work to continue promoting space for Indigenous voices in conversations. 

If you have some time this month for some reading, I would like to highlight two resources that have been created by the CFPC. In 2022, the CFPC signed a Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People in Canada. Last year in 2023, the CFPC developed two resources. One was a CanMeds-FM Indigenous Health Supplement to distribute to learners, and second was the Indigenous Health Case Study Compendium. 

Other valuable resources to find out what might be going on near you include your local Precision Equity and Social Justice Office or Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Office, if you are affiliated with a university/medical school. 

Through that resource I found that on June 21st (which is National Indigenous Peoples Day), there will be a Walk for Reconciliation in Calgary starting at the Harry Hays Building. There will be drummer and dancer performances, a community meal, and a showing of the documentary “What is Reconciliation?”

On June 24, there will be a Family Day and Powwow at Elbow River Camp at the Stampede Grounds, hosted by Aboriginal Awareness Week Calgary. There looks to be a free breakfast and BBQ, Indigenous Arts & Crafts market, hand game tournament and Powwow. 

Happy National Indigenous History Month! I hope this has piqued your interest and you may want to attend an event or two near you in June, read the engaging work that the CFPC has put together, and continue to make room for Indigenous voices at whatever tables you might be sitting at. 

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My name is Smitha Yaltho and I feel privileged to work as a family physician. Why? I believe that being a family physician has been the best job any physician can hope to have. I have personally grown in my own abilities and skill-sets with diverse opportunities in ambulatory practice, acute care and work in Facility Living.  Working in primary care has been exciting and has also afforded me tremendous opportunities for growth while still remaining stimulating in its complexity.  I believe that Family physicians are trusted partners in patient care –  every step of the way. 

Why are you volunteering to serve on this committee?
I currently have an interest in Physician Leadership and  trauma informed care.  I have served as a director with the Board of Directors with the Edmonton North PCN, Edmonton’s largest PCN. Thereafter, I have worked as the Director of Medical Services with CapitalCare (also based in Edmonton) for almost 6 years. It is my express wish that my contribution on the ACFP board of directors will highlight the excellence of family medicine that exists right here and now within the Alberta health care system. 

What about the ACFP’s work do you find most valuable?
Ability to highlight and further support the excellence of primary care right here in Alberta.