The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) held its annual conference this year in Vancouver, British Columbia, from May 25-28th. The National Collaborating Centre for Aboriginal Health (NCCAH), along with the five other National Collaborating Centres for Public Health (NCCPH), presented and participated in plenary discussions, panel presentations, networking events, and workshop sessions throughout the gathering. As well, print resources and publications were distributed through the NCCAH booth.
Dr. Margo Greenwood and Elder Leonard George of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation welcomed the CPHA delegates at the opening plenary on May 26th. Joe Gallagher, the Executive Director of the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) provided a keynote address, “The Dawn of a new era in BC First Nations health: Lessons from our story” in which he reviewed the historical context of First Nations health in BC and the current unique health system being led by the FNHA. Following this, Dr. Greenwood invited Brennan MacDonald (FNHA) to join Mr. Gallagher in a fireside chat to discuss First Nations’ perspective on wellness; to explore the key public health issues affecting BC First Nations and what is being undertaken to address them; and to showcase the importance of leadership in influencing system and practice change.
After the morning plenary, Dr. Margo Greenwood co-presented with Francois Benoit (NCCHPP), Maureen Dobbins (NCCMT), Lesley Dyck (NCCDH), and Margaret Haworth-Brockman (NCCID) in the session, “Population mental health and public health practitioners: What are the needs?” Recognizing that poor mental health and mental health disorders are among the top disease burdens in Canada, and the world, the goal of the presentation was to make linkages between mental health and public health; identify public health practitioners' needs for population mental health; and analyze the implications of public health practitioners' needs for various settings and contexts.
The afternoon of May 26th, Drs. Greenwood and de Leeuw welcomed panelists Dr. Charlotte Loppie, Dr. Brenda Macdougall, and Shirley Tagalik to “Re-thinking determinants of Indigenous Peoples' health in Canada”. Each of the panelists contributed to the soon-to-be released NCCAH book, Determinants of Indigenous Peoples' Health in Canada: Beyond the Social. As part of the presentation, mainstream and Indigenous understandings of social determinants of health were compared and contrasted; the legacies of how colonialism continues to perpetuate marked health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples in Canada was examined; and health and wellness through indigenous epistemologies, genealogies, narratives and worldviews was explored.
With colleagues from the other national collaborating centres, staff of the NCCAH participated in “Making connections: The National Collaborating Centre for Public Health networking event”. This networking dinner, on the evening of May 26th, invited CPHA delegates to share what they had used from the NCCs (resources, publications, events, workshops, webinars, etc.) as well as other knowledge products they would find useful. Facilitated table discussions also provided valuable ideas and topics for collaborative work that could be undertaken by the NCCs in the coming five years.
For information on the work of the NCCs, see the following websites:
On May 27th, the NCCAH was involved in two presentations. The morning session, “The BC First Nations perspectives on wellness”, chaired by Dr. Greenwood, brought together Dr. Evan Adams (Chief Medical Officer/FNHA), Elder Leonard George, and Grand Chief Doug Kelly (First Nations Health Council [FNHC]). They offered up the First Nations’ perspective on wellness and wellness streams as an approach to addressing First Nations public health and social determinants of health issues. The importance of cultural safety in the health system and health literacy amongst First Nations citizens was discussed. Successful wellness initiatives, supported by the FNHC and FNHA, were identified, including the use of Fitbit physical activity trackers by leadership.
Finally, the panel, “Housing, health and the Aboriginal Peoples of Canada” was co-chaired by Dr. Greenwood and Tom Kosatsky (NCCEH). Together, they introduced Leo Hebert (Prince George Metis Housing Society), Linda Pillsworth (Environmental Health Services, FNHA), Mona Shum (AMEC Environment and Infrastructure), and Louis Sorin (Winnipeg Health Regional Authority) to share their expertise on housing conditions on reserve and off reserve and the complexities of First Nations community housing programs; to highlight best practices for mould remediation in Aboriginal peoples' homes; and to provide strategies for the successful remediation of elevated radon levels in Métis social housing.