Traditional healing is increasingly being recognized as a means to improve the health and quality of life for Indigenous people. The Sacred Space will give Indigenous women a safe and welcoming place to gather, connect and carry out cultural healing ceremonies that align with their own traditions and values while they are receiving contemporary medical care at BC Women’s.
The Pole Raising Ceremony allowed local Musqueam and other First Nations, BC Women’s Hospital patients, staff and leadership, and community members, including Central City Foundation, to come together to celebrate the dedication of the new Totem Pole and Sacred Space and also to honour Cheryl Ward (Kwakwaka'wakw). Cheryl has dedicated her life to facilitating indigenous cultural safety training across Canada, and was instrumental in developing the San'yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training Program within the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) Aboriginal Health Program.
Many voices were heard at the Ceremony, from First Nations artist and creator of the Totem Pole, Calvin Hunt; First Nations leaders Chief Robert Joseph, Leslie Varley and Debra Sparrow; BC Women’s leaders Dr. Jan Christilaw, Jenny Morgan and Genesa Greening; to Jennifer Johnstone, CEO of Central City Foundation, who stated:
“We commend the work that BC Women’s and PHSA are leading that is strengthening cultural safety for women and their families, improving access to health care and, ultimately, creating better health outcomes."
BC Women’s Hospital Foundation and Central City Foundation are very proud to support the vision of BC Women’s Indigenous Health program to recognize and implement the broader spectrum of culturally based healing for women and families. The Sacred Space will act as an enduring testament to BC Women’s commitment to Indigenous cultural safety and the inclusion of cultural practices in health care, and will be a fundamental component of the safe, quality, culturally competent health care for Indigenous women.
Indigenous Health at BC Women's is a provincial program with a mandate to ensure that Indigenous women, girl and their families, particularly in rural and remote communities, receive optimal health care, advocacy and support. This Program provides services to Indigenous women and their families receiving care at BC Women's Hospital and Health Centre, and offers outreach services for Indigenous women and families in their communities across the province.