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BC First Nations establish first permanent provincial First Nations Health Authority in Canada

Coast Salish Territory (Vancouver), BC, May 28, 2012 – BC First Nations have achieved a historic level of consensus in moving to establish Canada’s first provincial First Nations Health Authority (FNHA). The decision was made at the fifth annual Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey forum on May 15-17, 2012 and marks another significant step forward in creating a more effective and culturally-responsive health service system for BC First Nations.

Over 800 delegates were on hand at the three-day event that saw 94% of Chiefs and Proxies in attendance approve the Consensus Paper 2012: Navigating the Currents of Change – Transitioning to a New First Nations Health Governance Structure. The Consensus Paper mandates transition from the interim First Nations Health Authority into a permanent form and begins planning for the establishment of Regional Offices to support health and wellness engagement with First Nations and Health Authorities at the regional level.The new model is founded upon the principle of reciprocal accountability and creates an environment for innovation, tradition and continued collaboration with all partners towards the overall goal of improving the design and delivery of health services and achieving a higher standard of health for BC First Nations. This development will enhance the clear separation between the political health governance work of the First Nations Health Council (FNHC) and the service delivery responsibilities that will soon fall under the FNHA.

“We have seen an overwhelming level of consensus again in the setting of further standards and clear marching orders by BC First Nations for our work over the next 18 months. As directed we will now establish our permanent Health Authority and provide tools for First Nations within the regions to do the work they need to improve services locally,” said Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Chair of the FNHC. “We are seeing a new level of leadership make ground-breaking changes in the way health services are created and delivered to BC First Nations. Our work is rooted in the Directives laid out by our leaders from the Consensus Paper 2011 that triggered the momentous change we’re seeing now in the transformation into a permanent system of wellness that will elevate the quality of life for all BC First Nations.”

This year’s forum also included signing ceremonies for Regional Partnership Accords between First Nations and Regional Health Authorities in the North, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver Coastal regions, opening new doors for cooperation and shared decision-making.

“The main focus of our work is improving services for BC First Nations. We are eager to implement an innovative holistic health and wellness model and to transform into our new role as a wellness partner to First Nations in BC,” said Joe Gallagher, CEO of the iFNHA. “This truly will be our Health Authority, built upon a foundation of responsiveness, efficiency and innovation.”

The Gathering Wisdom for a Shared Journey forums are the largest assembly of BC First Nations leadership in the province. The event brings together Chiefs, Elders, front-line health workers, community members, and provincial and federal partners to move forward on health systems transformation for BC First Nations. It’s a celebration of culture, tradition and the vision of healthy, self-determining and vibrant BC First Nations children, families and communities.

Connect with the First Nations Health Authority: www.fnha.ca

First Nations Health Council: www.fnhc.ca

High resolution photos are available upon request.

Background Documents:
2011 Gathering Wisdom IV Press Release
The Transformative Change Accord: First Nations Health Plan (2006)
The Tripartite First Nations Health Plan (2007)
The Consensus Paper: British Columbia First Nations Perspectives on a new Health Governance Arrangement (2011)
British Columbia Tripartite Framework Agreement on First Nation Health Governance (2011)

For further information:

Media Contact:
Trevor Kehoe
Communications
First Nations Health Authority
604-831-4898
[email protected]