BC First Nations have agreed to reform First Nations Health care in BC. First Nations would not support ambitious changes to health care without being fully involved in the decision and planning. From the outset, a decision was made that if the reforms to health care were to proceed it would need to be supported by First Nations. To achieve this BC First Nations would need to be well informed and involved in creating the changes.
Our government partners supported this and helped the Health Council with the work. The bulk of the work to engage First Nations has been done by the Health Council and their support staff (FNHA), and the First Nations themselves.
This has been an historic undertaking, bringing together First Nations who traditionally had little contact with each other. Previous interactions with government seldom encouraged First Nations to cooperate. There was no successful model for meaningfully engaging First Nations on this scale so a new process needed to be created.
BC First Nations have taken an unprecedented and active role in directing the process in a number of ways. They have participated through gatherings of Chiefs (Union of BC Indian Chiefs, The First Nations Summit, and the annual Gathering Wisdom events held by the First Nations Health Council) as well as through Regional Caucuses.
Given the history of government dealings with First Nations, there was initially a real concern over changes. As the tripartite relationship produced results, and a transparent structure was created that is responsive to the concerns of First Nations leaders in BC, support for the changes grew.
First Nations Health Authority (formerly the First Nations Health Society) staff have been providing communications and engagement support since the beginning of the process. This has included developing tools, models, information materials, and providing support for meetings.
Leadership (First Nations Health Council, the First Nations Health Authority CEO and senior managment, and the First Nations Health Authority Board of Directors) has served as spokepersons in the many meetings that have been held around BC with First Nations. They have also worked on agreements with government, made decisions and provided options to their constituents (BC First Nations) for review and decisions.
Led by the Interior Nations, and supported by most, a model of community-driven and nation-based decision-making was adopted. The First Nations Health Council has a policy of “room for everyone” (meaning all First Nations in BC have a place in the process) and have made efforts to ensure that all of BC’s 203 Chief Councillors and their advisors are well informed and encouraged to participate.
The Health Council process involves meetings of FIrst Nations in each of BC’s five health regions. These Regional Caucus meetings have become a central feature both of community engagement and the decision-making process. Members of the First Nations Health Council are selected from the regions by the First Nations from the region.
Through four years of engagement with BC First Nations the Health Council has learned about creating stable, regular engagement through Regional Caucuses and the Engagement and Approvals Pathway. There remains issues to be addressed but it is clear that a new era is dawning in BC where First Nations are more open to working together to begin solving the big problems. ‘We are stronger together’ is now firmly part of First Nations political discourse in BC.
Engagement and Approvals Pathway
The Engagement and Approvals Pathway is a process by which the First Nations Health Council gathers First Nations input and guidance and build consensus on key decisions. The Pathway was adopted by resolution in 2011 as part of the Resolution 2011-01 passed by the chiefs. By maintaining the expectations we have set we will continue to provide space for BC First Nations to remake health services for the people.
Engagement: A process of collecting wisdom, advice, feedback, and guidance from First Nations in BC on a health and wellness matter.
Discussion Document: Based on the engagement, developing options, questions, and models and providing those back to First Nations in BC for further engagement.
Engagement Summary: Based on the discussion document engagement, providing a description of the common area(s) of agreement amongst BC First Nations as it relates to that health and wellness matter.
Building Consensus: A process of dialogue, and amendment as required, to amend the Engagement Summary to build and capture consensus amongst First Nations in BC.
Ratification: A process of approval for the Consensus reached amongst First Nations in BC.
The entire process of the engagement pathway is guided by the 7 Directives adopted by BC First Nations in the Consensus Paper: BC First Nations Perspectives on a New Health Governance Arrangement, and the principle of Reciprocal Accountability.
The First Nations Health Council is committed to the timely and consistent communication with BC’s 203 First Nations Communities. There are many ways for communities to get involved with the FNHC and the Tripartite First Nations Health Plan including:
Community Engagement Hubs (CeH’s) Through the establishment of Community Engagement Hubs communities are engaging with FNHC to create 10 year partnerships for the implementation of the health plan. The purpose of Hubs is for First Nations to communicate, collaborate, and plan with neighbouring communities, and FNHC to realize local health priorities.
Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey
The annual FNHC health forums invites First Nations leaders, Health professionals and our government partners to network, strategize on common health goals, identify gaps, and formulate solutions.
FN Health Directors Association
A First Nations Health Directors Association is one four elements of the future health governance structure for BC First Nations health, planning and development of a Health Directors Association are underway.
The First Nations Health Council is committed to a high standard of accountability and transparency. Regular reports are made directly to BC First Nations through Regional Caucus meetings. In addition regular updates in the form of letters to chiefs, and communiques. Many resources can be found on this website, through publication as well as through audited financial statements as part of our annual reporting. The First Nations Health Council also makes reports to First Nations political organizations (the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the First Nations Summit).
Among the publications that the First Nations Health Council produces are Quarterly infobulletins: which are circulated in January, April, July and October of each year and provide quarterly updates on Health Council news and initiatives. Infobulletins are published in April, July, October and January of each year and provide quarterly updates on FNHC news & initiatives. Please email regarding distribution.