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Indigenous Reconciliation

The need for reconciliation has been established for decades, but increased attention on the issue has resulted since the release of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007), and in Canada, particularly since the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) (2008) and the release of its “Calls to Action” (2015). The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada provides 94 “calls to action” that lay the groundwork for how all sectors, including health, in what is now known as Canada can move forward in addressing systemic inequities and work towards reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.

 

Taking Action on Reconciliation

In response to these calls to action, the Middlesex-London Health Unit has developed and is currently implementing Taking Action on Reconciliation: An Organizational Plan for the Middlesex-London Health Unit (PDF). It is imperative to recognize that colonialism is the over-riding determinant of health for Indigenous Peoples. For public health to decrease existing health inequities, an understanding of the full context of Indigenous experiences of trauma and oppression over generations is needed.

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Urban Indigenous Health (London, Ontario)

Indigenous child playing drum

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Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge that the Middlesex-London Health Unit is on Indigenous land that has been inhabited by Indigenous peoples for thousands of years. There are longstanding relationships of the three local First Nations groups of this land and place in Middlesex County and the City of London. The three First Nations communities closest in proximity to Middlesex County and the City of London are: Chippewa of the Thames First Nation (part of the Anishinaabe); Oneida Nation of the Thames (part of the Haudenosaunee); and, Munsee-Delaware Nation (part of the Leni-Lunaape).i

As settlers, we're grateful for the opportunity to be here and we thank all the generations of people who have taken care of this land - for thousands of years. Long before today, there have been the first peoples of Turtle Island who have been the stewards of this place. In particular, we acknowledge the traditional territory of the Anishinaabe, Haudenosaunee, Attawandaron (Neutral), and Wendat peoples. This area was originally governed by the Three Fires Confederacy consisting of the Odawa, Pottawatomi, and the Ojibway. This territory is covered by the Upper Canada Treaties. We recognize and deeply appreciate their historic connection to this place.

It later became home to other nations who now call this place home. Considering this, we also recognize the contributions of Métis, Inuit, and other Indigenous peoples have made, both in shaping and strengthening this community in particular, and more widely in what is known today as the province of Ontario and country of Canada. As settlers, this recognition of the contributions and historic importance of Indigenous peoples must also be clearly and overtly connected to our collective commitment to make the promise and the challenge of Truth and Reconciliation real in our communities.

That is to say, our words are insufficient and need to be connected to real and meaningful action that contributes to improving the health and wellbeing of Indigenous people. In the Public Health context, examples of actions include, improving the state of Indigenous population health data, having programming that reflects Indigenous ways of knowing and doing, hiring Indigenous staff, as well as using our power and influence to shape public policy in ways that support the wellness and self-determination of Indigenous communities.

i Pronunciations

Anishinaabe (Ah-nish-na-baye)
Haudenosaunee (Ho-deh-no-show-nee)
Attawandaron (At-ta-won-da-ron)
Wendat (Wan-dat)
Odawa (O-dow-wa)
Pottawatomi (Pott-a-wat-omi)
Ojibway (O-jib-way)

 

Resources

  • Greenwood, M., deLeeuw, S., Lindsay, N., & Reading, C. (Eds.). (2015). Determinants of Indigenous People’s Health in Canada: Beyond the Social. Toronto. ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
  • Loppie Reading, C., and F. Wien. 2009. Health Inequalities and Social Determinants of Aboriginal Peoples’ Health. Prince George: National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Peoples’ Health.
  • Reading, C. (2015). Structural Determinants of Aboriginal People’s Health. In Greenwood, M., deLeeuw, S., Lindsay, N., & Reading, C. (Eds.). (2015). Determinants of Indigenous People’s Health in Canada: Beyond the Social. Toronto. ON: Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc.
 
Date of creation: February 23, 2018
Last modified on: July 11, 2019