The Association of Registered Nurses of BC


Statement of Commitment on Aboriginal Health


On November 28, ARNBC President-Elect, Tania Dick, launched the Association's Statement of Commitment on Aboriginal Health at the CMHA BC Division's b4stage4 Conference in Victoria, BC. This Statement of Commitment communicates the ARNBC's intent to continue to reflect on, develop, and refine the approaches we take as a profession, including the resources allocated towards acknowledging and addressing our own cultural humility so that we can effectively contribute to addressing and changing health inequities within our society.
Aboriginal peoples refer to individuals who identify as First Nations, Inuit and Metis. According to the National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health, Aboriginal peoples across B.C experience significant health inequities compared to non-Aboriginal peoples. As a result of systemic and institutional racism, reinforcement of colonial policies, and intergenerational trauma associated with residential schools, a significant health gap has resulted between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples. While there has been some improvement over the years, various social, economic, political and structural issues continue to compromise the health of this population.

Nurses are often the only, or most frequent point of contact for Aboriginal peoples within the healthcare system. Aboriginal peoples have unique needs, and as a result, nurses must be well-prepared to provide care that is culturally competent, culturally sensitive, and safe. In the 2014/2015 Strategic Plan, ARNBC identified Aboriginal Health and Nursing as a priority policy area for the Association. Subsequently, at the 2014 Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) Annual General Meeting in June 2014 members voted on nine resolutions, four of which pertain specifically to the urgent need to address Aboriginal Health and Nursing issues (view the resolutions). In July, CNA, along with the Aboriginal Nurses Association of Canada (A.N.A.C.), released a report entitled "Aboriginal Health Nursing and Aboriginal Health: Charting Policy Direction for Nursing in Canada".

ARNBC is focused on bringing awareness to the issue of health inequities within Aboriginal populations to the nursing profession, government and the public. In order to bring forth the voice of Aboriginal peoples, ARNBC has begun several initiatives including establishing a "Regional Director, First Nations" seat as part of the Board of Directors, launching the STAND program (Strengthen Aboriginal Nursing Development) to provide leadership opportunities for Aboriginal nurses, and developing a thriving Aboriginal health nursing community of practice. Through the creation of position statements, ARNBC has also put forward several actionable recommendations that will guide the association's work moving forward. We will continue to work with partners to continue this important dialogue, and work to examine and/or implement policies and strategies that strengthen Aboriginal Health and Nursing.