I hope this letter finds you all in good health and high spirits. As we embrace the warmth of summer today, on National Indigenous Peoples Day, it is with great pleasure that I write to you in commemoration of National Indigenous History Month (NIHM). This annual observance provides us with a valuable opportunity to reflect upon and honour the rich cultural heritage and contributions of Indigenous peoples across the Treaty Nations of Alberta.
The month of June serves as a poignant reminder for all Canadians to deepen their understanding of the historical, social, and cultural experiences of Indigenous communities. It is a time to acknowledge the resilience, wisdom, and diversity that have shaped the tapestry of our land.
As family physicians dedicated to providing equitable health care, it is crucial that we recognize the unique health challenges faced by Indigenous peoples and work towards fostering a more inclusive health care system.
Participating in ReconciliACTION
It is not enough to simply acknowledge the past; we must actively engage in learning, unlearning, and supporting the well-being of Alberta’s Indigenous communities. This is what we mean when we refer to making a commitment to ReconciliACTION. By fostering strong relationships and promoting cultural safety in our practices, we can contribute to closing the health equity gap that exists between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations of Alberta.
Let us engage in conversations, share stories, and learn from one another. Visit our Truth and Reconciliation page for resources on how you can learn, listen, and participate. We also invite you to share your own reflections, recommendations, and commitments on the ACFP’s virtual ReconciliACTION and Resources board. You will find my own commitment posted there already. Together, we can forge a brighter, more inclusive future where Indigenous voices and Ways of Knowing are heard, valued, and respected.
Immersing in Local Events and Programs
In this spirit, I also urge each of you to explore the wealth of Indigenous knowledge and history available to us right here in Alberta. Attend local events, engage with Indigenous leaders, or take part in cultural activities that promote understanding and appreciation like the celebrations happening in places like Edmonton, Calgary, Jasper, and Banff. Several of these cultural resource sites even offer options for virtual participation if you’re unable to attend in-person.
The ACFP’s Commitment
As an organization, the ACFP is committed to supporting initiatives that inspire our members while centering them as the valued and trustworthy hub of community-based health care. We hope that you are able to take some time this month to learn about and celebrate some of Alberta’s existing Indigenous health and health-equity initiatives. The ACFP will also continue to reflect on its Strategic Framework in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action on Health (summarized here by the University of Alberta). By amplifying Indigenous voices and advocating for equitable health care whenever possible, we can create meaningful change within our province and beyond.
In closing, I want to express my gratitude to all the Indigenous communities who have been stewards of this land for thousands of years. Your wisdom, resilience, and contributions have enriched our society immeasurably. May this month inspire us all to walk the path of reconciliation, to celebrate diversity, and to foster healing.
Wishing you all a meaningful and impactful National Indigenous Peoples Day and National Indigenous History Month.
Noel DaCunha, MBBS, CCFP
Alberta College of Family Physicians