With 50 to 70 per cent of the patients at the Children's Hospital being First Nations, the hospital is committed to working towards truth and reconciliation.
Rebecca Chartrand is the chair of the Indigenous Advisory Circle (IAC) with the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.
"In conversation with Stefano Grande, the President and CEO of the foundation, about their desire to work towards reconciliation, meant bringing on an Indigenous Board Member. I am their first," says Chartrand.
The IAC was started in 2019 and was designed to provide some bridge-building in between the Indigenous community and the work of the Children's Hospital Foundation of Manitoba.
"In our two years, we've been able to offer training to the board, which includes the KAIROS blanket exercise, as well as training on Jordan's principle. It is significant to advancing childcare here in Manitoba," says Chartrand.
They have also collaborated with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, which includes the creation of the Spirit Bear Masks.
"The mask symbolizes the effort that we're making, the bridge-building that we're doing between the Children's Hospital Foundation and the Indigenous community and its leadership."
Right now the foundation is halfway to its fundraising goal of opening up an Indigenous community healing space in the hospital which will provide a safe space for healing while children are away from their home community and cultural supports.
"The project was led by Dr. Melanie Morris, Canada's first and only Indigenous Pediatric Surgeon. The Health Science Centre has committed 2,000 sq ft to this centre and hoping to break ground soon."
The foundations work with IAC is a show of their commitment to answering the calls to action for truth and reconciliation, specifically Call to Action #22. It says "We call upon those who can effect change within the Canadian health-care system to recognize the value of Aboriginal healing practices and use them in the treatment of Aboriginal patients in collaboration with Aboriginal healers and Elders where requested by Aboriginal patients."
"I think we're doing a really good job on that front," says Chartrand.
This year the foundation is celebrating 50 years of community impact.
"We’re grateful to the IAC for providing information and advice within an Indigenous perspective and worldview," says Zoë Richardson, chair of the Foundation board in a news release. "This helps the Foundation to build deep, meaningful and collaborative relationships to improve the health of children at HSC Children’s through engagement and fundraising."