Volume 10 | No. 3 | May / Jun 2022 query_builder 2 minutes

Registrar’s message: taking steps forward in the College’s truth and reconciliation journey

Dr. Heidi M. Oetter, Registrar and CEO


May 2021 was a significant time in the College’s truth and reconciliation journey. On May 11, 2021, the registrars of the province’s four largest health regulatory colleges issued a joint apology to Indigenous people and communities who experienced racism through our colonial systems and by the health professions we regulate. Shortly after, we learned of the discovery of the remains of 215 children at the former residential school in Kamloops. This, and subsequent tragic discoveries, reaffirms why it was important to issue the joint apology and reinforces the College’s commitment to cultural safety and humility. 

As June is National Indigenous History Month, I want to take this opportunity to reflect on the College’s actions from this past year towards that commitment and lay the foundation for future actions we plan to take. 

The College is addressing Indigenous-specific racism by adding cultural safety and humility as a core pillar of its 2021-2024 Strategic Plan, and embedding it into its regulatory processes, daily operations, and governance structures. In February, the Board approved a new practice standard for registrants, Indigenous Cultural Safety, Cultural Humility and Anti-racism, which introduces six core concepts and foundational principles for integrating cultural safety and humility into daily medical practice.

As part of our pledge to do more towards breaking down our colonial structures, the College is also undertaking a critical review of the current state of its complaints process to understand what barriers exist that prevent Indigenous patients from bringing forward concerns about their care. The goal of this review will be to develop a future state that includes new pathways for Indigenous Peoples to address their concerns such as restorative justice and early dispute resolution.

At the governance level, board and committee members have made their own personal commitment to understanding the impacts of our colonial past and taking action to drive systemic change through ongoing education and training in implicit bias, trauma-informed care and administrative fairness. We are holding ourselves accountable by broadening Indigenous participation on our Board and committees and learning from our Indigenous partners and colleagues who have so graciously guided us on this journey.

Board members and leaders at the College recognize that upholding Indigenous rights, eliminating racism within the health-care system, and earning the trust of Indigenous Peoples requires consistent and persistent concrete actions. We further recognize that practising cultural safety and humility, and using this knowledge to change practice, is an ongoing journey. Together with our partners, our path towards dismantling the racism built into our colonial health-care system will continue.

At its retreat at the end of June, the Board will spend two days reflecting on our actions to date and chart a new path that builds on our efforts towards truth and reconciliation. I look forward to sharing this plan with you in future issues of the College Connector.

If you are interested in broadening your own knowledge and learning about how to integrate cultural safety and humility principles into your practice, I encourage you to review this list of resources on the College website.

Heidi M. Oetter, MD
Registrar and CEO

Comments on this or any other article published in the College Connector can be submitted to the communications and public affairs department at communications@cpsbc.ca.