Unique collaboration brings First Nation communities and physicians together in longhouse sessions

January 19, 2023

In Indigenous communities, the longhouse is a sacred place of healing and teaching. It is an ideal setting for a new program offered by the Joint Collaborative Committees (JCCs) that provides a unique relationship building opportunity for physicians and local First Nation communities. The goal is to support physicians in providing culturally safe care by proactively addressing issues relating Indigenous Specific Anti Racism (ISAR) & Cultural Safety (CS) in the delivery of medical services. 

The sessions are co-hosted by Len Pierre Consulting and local First Nation communities. Launched in the autumn of last year, attendees were welcomed into the longhouses of the Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo, Qualicum), Kwantlen (Langley, Surrey, Ridge Meadows), and Sts’Ailes (Mission, Abbotsford, Agassiz, Chilliwack) First Nations. At the sessions, participants were provided with a traditional Indigenous meal and listened to drumming and story sharing. 

First Nation communities and physicians together in longhouse sessions

They learned about residential school trauma and the impacts that colonization has had on Indigenous Peoples in an impactful and experiential way. Cultural sensitivity, the history of colonization, and ways to provide safe and respectful care to Indigenous patients, were addressed in an intimate group setting. 

The Kwantlen First Nation longhouse session video (October 11, 2022) provides a moving and insightful look at the experience, which many participants found to be transformative. One attendee said: “I was expecting to learn about Indigenous culture, but wasn't expecting to question and challenge my own beliefs. This is the most powerful cultural training I have received so far.”  

Beginning this spring, the JCCs – a partnership of Doctors of BC and the BC government - are expecting to co-host over 8 longhouse sessions in various parts of the province, from Northern BC, South Island, and the Okanagan/Interior. More information on locations and registration will be shared in the upcoming months. 

The longhouse sessions are one example of the partners commitment to advance cultural safety in medicine. Other learning opportunities, such as webinars and workshops, will be offered through out the year. 

Last year, the JCCs commissioned Indigenous artist sɬə́məxʷ Rain Pierre to design an art print that doctors are invited to display in their medical offices across BC as a representation of this commitment to Indigenous culturally safe care. 

To request a print to be mailed to your practice or office, please complete this form.