BCCFP Welcomes Dr. Rebekah Eatmon as Indigenous Physician Lead

On September 30, the BC College of Family Physicians (BCCFP) will join others across the country in recognizing the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The federal statutory holiday was passed into legislation this past June in response to Call to Action 80 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

In recent years, September 30 has been known as Orange Shirt Day  – a date chosen because it is the time of year in which children were taken from their homes to residential schools. National Day for Truth and Reconciliation builds on the efforts of Orange Shirt Day to  commemorate the history and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools. The day was announced shortly after the remains of 215 children were uncovered in late May by the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation. More remains have been uncovered at other former residential school locations in the months since, and the process of investigation continues. On this day, we honour those who were lost and the survivors, families and communities who continue to grieve.

BCCFP’s recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation is one step in our ongoing journey of reconciliation with Canada’s Indigenous people. In 2019, we signed the Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Indigenous People in BC, signaling our commitment to advancing cultural safety and humility among family physicians.

While we have made some progress towards the goals outlined in the Declaration, we know there is still much to be done. Our 2021-2024 Strategic Plan renews our commitment to this work – advocating for culturally safe health care and demonstrating anti-racist approaches to address health equity are key priorities in the plan.

As we move from commitment to action, the BCCFP is excited to welcome to our team, Dr. Rebekah Eatmon, in the role of Indigenous Physician Lead. Dr. Eatmon will help to embed cultural safety and humility learning and practices in the BCCFP’s work. 

Dr. Eatmon is a family physician serving both urban and rural Indigenous peoples at the Lu’ma Medical Centre in Vancouver, as well as Carrier Sekani Family Services in Northern BC. She is Tsimshian from Lax Kw’alaams, from the Raven Clan on her father’s side and Métis on her mother’s side. She completed her medical training at UBC, where she participated in cultural safety learning as a resident in the Indigenous Family Medicine Program.

“There are many family physicians who are working towards an equitable healthcare system”, says Dr. Eatmon. “As the In Plain Sight Report highlights,  there is still much work to be done. As an Indigenous family physician, I hope to use my medical training and lived experience to help other physicians deepen their understanding on how to practise culturally safe care.

Join Us in Learning More

On Nov. 24, Dr. Eatmon will host the first of a series of webinars aimed at deepening family physicians’ understanding of cultural safety and humility. Through frank discussion, supported learning, and self-reflection, the Cultural Safety and Humility in Family Medicine Series is an opportunity to learn more about integrating cultural safety and humility in your practice and in your interactions with First Nations and Indigenous patients.

Understanding the trauma caused by the residential school system and colonialism in Canada is as essential part of caring for Indigenous communities. On National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we encourage our members to take the opportunity to learn more about the history of residential schools and to listen to the stories being told by survivors.

“Our journey of reconciliation is only just beginning,” says BCCFP President Dr. Marjorie Docherty. “We know we have a long way to go, and there is much learning to be done. As an organization, we look forward to engaging in this important work with Dr. Eatmon, other Indigenous partners and our members across the province. Family physicians can be strong advocates for lasting positive changes to how health care is experienced by the indigenous peoples of our province and across Canada”

In recognition of National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, the BCCFP office will be closed and staff will attend a session with colleagues from across the country as part of an event hosted by the CFPC.

Here are a few actions that you can take to support Reconciliation:

  • Share information with your patients

Click here for information you can use on your clinic websites or social media channels to explain about National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and why your office is closed. (Reviewers – see copy below)

  • Learn more about the history of residential schools and reconciliation in Canada:

Reconciliation Canada

National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation

Orange Shirt Day

  • Access resources and activities to support you in practising cultural safety and humility:

Cultural Safety and Humility – BCCFP

  • Read In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care

Read the summary report

Read the full report

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