Collaboration, forward thinking and finding solutions, rather than focusing on the problems, are highlights Splatsin Kukpi7 (Chief) Wayne Christian said were key at the Interior Regional Health Caucus hosted by the First Nations Health Council in Williams Lake last week.
“We are discussing the social determinants of health like child welfare, justice and education — all those things that impact health of the individual and of families,” Christian said Friday morning before the day’s sessions began at the Thompson Rivers University campus.
Of the 54 communities and seven Interior nations in the region, 40 to 45 of the communities were represented at the caucus, said Christian.
The caucus meets twice a year to discuss issues around First Nations health.
“Ministry officials are here, collaborating and listening and looking at ways of creating solutions for the issues that exist,” Christian said.
Amemorandum of understanding between the government and the First Nations Health Council is presently in place, aimed at determining how the two sides can work together to create a 10-year strategy, he said.
“Over the next two years we will be looking at how we can begin interventions on the ground so things are much more collaborative and that the things we achieve are going to really make a difference for children.”
There are five regions in B.C. and the deputy ministers are committed to attend each region, make presentations, and receive feedback from the chiefs, leadership and staff of each First Nation community, Christian added.
Out of the seven Interior nations, three representatives are selected to go to the 15-member First Nations Health Council.
At the election held Thursday at the caucus in Williams Lake, members elected Gwen Phillips of the Ktunaxa Nation, Allan Louis of the Okanagan Indian Band and Bonaparte Chief Ryan Day.
Christian has stepped down, he said, because Regional Chief Shane Gottfriedson has appointed him to sit on the National Committee on Child Welfare.
Tletinqox (Anaham) Chief Joe Alphonse said he has been pushing for the caucus to be be held in Williams Lake ever since First Nations communities moved from Health Canada to the First Nations Health Authority.
“Normally they are held in Kamloops or Kelowna, but I said if we have it here then more of our staffs and councils can attend and it helps people from other areas in the region better understand what it is like for us to travel all the time,” Alphonse said.
His other motive, he said, is about injecting business into Williams Lake.
“We had the Elders Gathering here this summer and now this — people stay here, they shop, they eat out. That’s my intention for Williams Lake.”