Message from the Indigenous Initiatives Advisor

“Come out and fight! It is a good day to die. Thank you for making me a human being. Thank you for helping me to become a warrior. Thank you for my victories, and for my defeats. Thank you for my vision, and for the blindness in which I saw further. You make all things and direct them in their ways, Oh Grandfather. And now you have decided that the human beings will soon walk a road that leads nowhere. I am going to die now. Unless death wants to fight! And I ask you for the last time – to grant me my own power to make things happen.”

Chief Dan George in his starring role as ‘Old Lodge Skins’ from the movie Little Big Man (1970), in which he was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe

The time to make things happen is now. The time to seek out our individual and shared power is now. We may have been set on a journey that has led to nowhere, and we may have experienced many defeats and blinding pain. We’re on a new journey now and the passage we are charting will ensure a collective victory for all of our people. There will be plenty of room in our canoe for healing, growth and the recognition of our language, identity and being. We all come from epic and eternal forebears anchored in the balance between the present and the past, and it is this genetic code that lives in every one of us both as proud human beings and as mighty warriors. Let us direct each other to all that is good and whole, strong and resilient, and determined and dignified. Let us once again reach the highest levels of self-respect and collective nobility with a resilience that meets every adversity with endurance and grace. Let us be the New Ancestors that seek out and grant a new power in which we all succeed, we all know happiness, and we all know the true worth of our spirit.

The UBC Faculty of Medicine along with the Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion (REDI) proclaims to uphold a unified response and commitment to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action. This new and exciting position is a signal that the tenets of oppression and assimilation will no longer have the ability to perpetuate racism and discrimination against Indigenous peoples. The work ahead is both timely and relevant, and will challenge all of us to be brave in our efforts to set a new course of achievement that sets right the relationship between Canada and Indigenous people.

This work concerns addressing issues of racism and discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada. This work also defines an approach to establish the importance of Cultural Safety and Humility. The work ahead will guide how we can adapt to better respond to First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Indigenous people are important to Canada, and how Canada relates to them defines its sense of justice, purpose and redress. There is urgency at all levels within health systems to open the door to Indigenous participation in the reconciliation of Cultural Safety and Humility, and this journey will begin with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

Involving Indigenous peoples’ participation is an expression of wanting to arrive at the truth of racism and discrimination, and to create the processes that bring together Cultural Safety and Humility as a legitimate standard. Health systems that make and implement policy based on active participation of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples can be expected to ensure an enduring legacy of transformative change. This change must reflect our best intentions as Canadians, and these standards must reflect our best principles as health service providers.

We must challenge the status quo in an effort to understand what we don’t know about our self and our Canadian history. We must be brave and we must create a community of empathy, an intensity of ingenuity, and an honest redress that is simultaneously meaningful and enduring – as Indigenous peoples and as Canadians.

With Respect,

Derek Thompson – Thlaapkiituup
Indigenous Initiatives Advisor, Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Faculty of Medicine
University of British Columbia
Vancouver Campus, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm – Musqueam Territory

I respectfully acknowledge the magnificent territories in which I work, and will make every effort to uphold the sovereignty of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm – Musqueam, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh – Squamish and səlilwətaɬ – Tsleil-Waututh Nations. The Office of Respectful Environments, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion values all First Nations, Métis and Inuit people for their many contributions to the richness of our province. This acknowledgement is expressed in gratitude for the opportunity to work across the UBC Faculty of Medicine in an effort to reciprocate the commitments made to Indigenous peoples for a better and just future.