Acknowledging National Indigenous History Month 

By dedicating ourselves to this important endeavor, we can build a future that respects the rights, dignity, and health of Indigenous communities across Canada. 

June marks the observance of National Indigenous History Month. During this significant period, the College of Pharmacists of Manitoba (CPhM) urges pharmacy professionals and all Manitobans to take the time to honour and learn about the rich history, diverse heritage, resilience, and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Manitoba and across the nation. It is also a necessary time to reflect upon the tragic legacy and ongoing trauma caused by residential schools, and to pay tribute to the survivors, their families, and communities across Canada who continue to grieve. 

At CPhM, we strongly encourage our staff, Council members, pharmacy professionals, and other healthcare practitioners to educate themselves about the social injustices experienced by Indigenous peoples within the healthcare system. By gaining a deeper understanding of the existing inequalities, we can pave the way for positive change.  

During National Indigenous History Month, we are reminded of the historical injustices and ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities. It is a time to reflect on the need for cultural sensitivity in healthcare and to actively engage in promoting cultural safety and humility. 

Cultural safety entails creating an environment where patients feel safe, respected, and understood, free from any form of discrimination or bias. It requires pharmacy professionals to acknowledge the historical and systemic issues that have adversely affected Indigenous communities’ health outcomes. By actively engaging in cultural safety practices, pharmacy professionals can bridge gaps in healthcare access, improve communication, and deliver patient-centered care that aligns with the cultural values, beliefs, and practices of Indigenous patients. 

Cultural humility, on the other hand, is a lifelong commitment to self-reflection, learning, and acknowledging one’s own cultural biases and limitations. It involves recognizing that every patient has unique cultural experiences and perspectives that should be valued and incorporated into their care. Pharmacy professionals practicing cultural humility approach each patient encounter with humility, open-mindedness, and a willingness to learn from the patient’s cultural expertise. This approach fosters mutual respect, collaboration, and empowerment, allowing pharmacists to provide personalized and effective care that meets the specific needs of Indigenous patients. 

National Indigenous History Month serves as a reminder for everyone to deepen their understanding of Indigenous history, culture, and the ongoing challenges faced by Indigenous communities in accessing equitable healthcare. By incorporating this knowledge into practice, pharmacy professionals can contribute to dismantling systemic barriers, addressing health disparities, and promoting culturally safe and humble care —enabling us to make meaningful contributions to the process of Reconciliation. 

To embark on your own path toward Truth and Reconciliation, we recommend the following resources: 

CPhM’s Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Webinar 1: Indigenous Health 

  • Indigenous Health will take place on June 26th, from 7:00 – 8:30 p.m., coinciding with National Indigenous History Month. It explores the history and ongoing effects of colonialism on Indigenous Peoples’ health, resilience, culture, and provides practical learning opportunities and aims to integrate Indigenous health into pharmacy practice. For more information, please refer to the following article in this edition of the Friday Five.

Indigenous Cultural Humility, Health Equity, and Relations Resources (CPhM) 

Webinars – The pharmacy community holds a vital position as a primary gateway to our healthcare system, therefore you must be responsible for ensuring the implementation of culturally safe and patient-centred care. To assist you in your practice, please see the following resources: 

  • Indigenous Health and Reconciliation in Pharmacy with Dr. Jaris Swidrovich on cultural safety and how pharmacists and the pharmacy profession can respond to the Truth and Reconciliation of Canada’s Calls to Action.  
  •  Understanding the Indigenous Experience from both sides of the Pharmacy Counter, where you’ll learn from a panel of Indigenous pharmacy professionals as they discuss their experiences within the pharmacy community, the role that pharmacists can play in understanding and addressing health disparities facing Indigenous patients and communities and how we can better provide culturally safe, inclusive care. 
  • Trauma-Informed Care Through an Indigenous Lens by the Indigenous Continuing Education Centre explores the many origins of trauma for Indigenous People and communities. This webinar defines core trauma-informed care concepts and offers strategies for first responders and front-line workers. 

Additional resources and learning opportunities can be found on the Government of Canada website: 

As we navigate towards a more inclusive and culturally sensitive healthcare system, let us remember that our individual journeys of awareness and education contribute to the collective progress of Reconciliation. By dedicating ourselves to this important endeavor, we can build a future that respects the rights, dignity, and health of Indigenous communities across Canada.