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On this Day in Our History: Agreement moves BC Nations closer to health authority

Oct. 13, 2011

Landmark agreement signed by BC, Canada and First Nations.


First Nations in British Columbia took a step closer to their goal of developing a First Nations Health Authority with the signing of a legal agreement between Canada, the province, and the First Nations Health Society at a ceremony held in the Squamish Nation longhouse on Oct. 13, 2011.

Dignitaries included Health Canada Minister Leona Aglukkaq, provincial Minister of Health Mike de Jong, and National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo.

The agreement is a first for Canada, intended to provide greater decision-making for First Nations in regard to how health services and programs are planned, designed, managed and delivered to First Nations people.

A prayer song was offered, with a blessing bestowed on the visitors to the longhouse that day.

The ceremony began when a sacred space was created in the longhouse with blankets placed on the dirt floor. Signers, blanketed in red, except for First Nations Health Council Chair Doug Kelly, who wore a traditional wool blanket, were drummed into the venue and circled the building twice. They were then stood on the blankets where they were introduced.

“BC First Nations wish to be fully involved in decision-making regarding the health of their people,” reads the agreement, so the parties will work together to create a new health governance structure that will result in a more integrated health system that reflects the cultures and perspectives of BC First Nations and incorporates First Nations’ models of wellness.

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