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Published on Friday, September 29, 2023

GBPH honouring National Day for Truth & Reconciliation

Grey Bruce Public Health will join its Indigenous partners, local communities, organizations, and residents on Sept. 30, 2023, in commemorating the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

"On the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation in Grey-Bruce, we unite in the pursuit of understanding, healing, and justice as we honour the resilience and heritage of Indigenous people. We hope to forge a path of genuine reconciliation – honouring the past, embracing the present, and forging a future built on understanding, respect, dignity, and unity,” says GBPH Physician Consultant Dr. Rim Zayed.

Public Health has accepted an invitation from Saugeen First Nation for staff from various GBPH teams to attend and set up an information booth at the community’s Truth and Reconciliation Day event on Sept. 30.

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation recognizes the tragic history of residential schools and the inter-generational harm they caused to Indigenous families and communities and honours survivors and the children who never returned home.

Establishing a statutory holiday to “honour survivors, their families, and communities, and ensure that public commemoration of the history and legacy of residential schools remains a vital component of the reconciliation process” was one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s 94 Calls to Action.

Each year, Grey Bruce Public Health observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation as a statutory holiday. Because the day falls on a Saturday this year, GBPH’s offices will be closed on Monday, Oct. 2, 2023.

GBPH is encouraging staff to attend National Truth and Reconciliation Day events and wear orange on Orange Shirt Day, also Sept. 30, to help raise awareness of the intergenerational impacts of residential schools and promote the concept of “Every Child Matters.” Public Health also encourages staff to learn about the rich and diverse cultures, voices, and histories of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Grey Bruce Public Health is deeply committed to reconciliation with Indigenous people and values its important, ongoing partnerships and collaborative work with local Indigenous communities.

GBPH reads a land acknowledgment at the beginning of community meetings and includes it, in written form, at the front of major reports and publications. Public Health is working with a local videographer to create, with the help and participation of local Indigenous communities and residents, a land acknowledgment short film that will aim to share Indigenous stories about and showcase the importance of our local landscape and its deep meaning to our Indigenous partners and neighbours in Grey-Bruce.

As part of its reconciliation journey, GBPH is encouraging staff to take and include in annual performance development plans Indigenous-led anti-racism cultural safety training. The organization is covering the cost of core and advanced training, which aims to foster health equity and mitigate the effects of systemic racism experienced by Indigenous people in health and other sectors.

The 94 Calls to Action urge all levels of government to provide cultural competency training for healthcare professionals and provide education to public servants on the history of Aboriginal peoples.

GBPH also partners with local First Nations communities to provide and support the provision of services related to sexual health, harm reduction, vaccine-preventable diseases, oral health, and health promotion.

GBPH also collaborates with the M’Wikwedong Indigenous Friendship Centre in Owen Sound and the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre.

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