Statement from the Canadian Public Health Association on the occasion of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation 2023
The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) recognizes that Truth and Reconciliation is an ongoing and evolving process, and that every interaction between Indigenous (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) Peoples and non-Indigenous people is an opportunity to advance Truth and Reconciliation. CPHA commits to embedding Truth and Reconciliation meaningfully in its work and strives to have robust relations with Indigenous Peoples based on mutual respect, trust, and dialogue. CPHA is sincerely committed to the identification and removal of colonial, oppressive, and racist policies, procedures and practices in our organization and our work.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, established to recognize the historical and ongoing injustices faced by Indigenous peoples, serves as a solemn reminder of the need to confront the harsh truths of our past while forging a path toward a more equitable and inclusive future. As we commemorate this day, we must not only acknowledge the painful and lasting legacies of colonization but also appreciate the profound public health impacts of systemic racism on Indigenous communities.
Systemic racism, deeply rooted in Canada's history, has had devastating effects on the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples. Access to clean water, safe housing, and high-quality health services has been unequal, leading to alarming disparities in health outcomes. Indigenous communities continue to grapple with higher rates of chronic diseases, mental health issues, substance use, and infant mortality. These disparities are the result of systemic racism.
Moreover, the intergenerational trauma stemming from the residential school system has left lasting scars on Indigenous Peoples and communities. The trauma has manifested in various forms, including substance use, mental health struggles, and challenges in forming healthy interpersonal relationships. These issues have a profound impact on the overall health of Indigenous communities.
The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation offers an opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to addressing these public health inequities. It calls on us to redouble our efforts to ensure that Indigenous communities have equal access to culturally appropriate health and mental health services, and to invest in Indigenous-led healthcare initiatives that prioritize community-based care and holistic healing. This day also underlines the importance of improving overall well-being by addressing social determinants of health such as education, housing, and employment. Supporting initiatives that empower Indigenous communities to take control of their health and well-being is paramount to achieving reconciliation.
As we commemorate this day, let us recommit ourselves to the path of truth, healing, and reconciliation, not just in words but in tangible actions that improve the lives and health of Indigenous Peoples across Canada.