Social Determinants of Health

The Gathering Wisdom forum this year took place November 30 – December 2, 2016, in Vancouver. The theme was Learning from the Past and Planning for the Future. We acknowledged that “social determinants of health” are not a new concept to Indigenous peoples. This holistic concept of health reflects our connection between physical, mental, spiritual and emotional dimensions of well-being. We must reflect on these teachings, values and traditions as we chart the course for our health journey.

Gathering Wisdom featured full days of reports from provincial representatives, such as Lori Wanamaker, Deputy Minister of Children and Family Services; Richard Fyfe, Deputy Minister of Justice; Mark Sieben, Deputy Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General; Dave Byng, Deputy Minister of Education; and Sandra Carroll, Deputy Minister of Advanced Education.

The objectives of the forum were to:

  • Inform the strategic direction of Ministries through dialogue with Deputy Ministers;
  • Set the stage for ongoing dialogue abut the social determinants of health in sub-regional and regional caucuses; and
  • Discuss next steps in the process to develop a ten-year social determinants of health strategy over a period of 18 months.

The keynote speaker, Terry Cross (Founder – National Indian Child Welfare Association, USA), gave an inspiring presentation on his model of social determinants of health that has been developed over many years of working with communities. This approach keeps safety at its core, and supports families and keeping children safe within communities.

He spoke of decolonization that must take place in communities by developing partnerships between ministries, Elders, youth, service providers. We must use our ancestral wisdom, which is a system of care that is our philosophy and is family driven. It is key to build your own protective system within your community through partnership of services (including native and non-native organizations), and by working with Elders, youth and families to provide this all-inclusive program that encompasses a safety net for child welfare.

Remembering our culture is the most important step to take. Toquaht is on this path of cultural resurgent as we prepare for the significant upcoming potlatch for the late Chief Bert Mack and his wife, Lillian. Thank you for your support.


(Chief Anne Mack)

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