Journey towards reconciliation
Providence is committed to continuing to build relationships with, and improve health care for Indigenous people throughout BC.
You may have noticed something beautiful and vibrant adorning the walls of St. Paul’s Hospital recently. The waiting room of the Rapid Access Addiction Clinic (RAAC), the entrance to the HUB Emergency Department, and the halls of unit 10C have become canvases for well-known First Nations artist Jerry Whitehead. His striking paintings featuring Northern Lights and ceremonial powwow scenes are instantly recognizable and, Jerry hopes, impactful. “I hope it gives patients a good feeling, even just by looking at all the colours, and makes them feel better inside somehow.”
It’s not just about brightening up hospital spaces. As Scott Harrison explains, this is a key piece of Providence’s commitment to reconciliation with Indigenous people. “Our Indigenous patients were very clear with us. As part of reconciliation, seeing themselves and their culture reflected in our buildings was very important to them,” says the director of Urban Health, Indigenous Health, Substance Use, Maternity and NICU.
The most recent addition to the hospital’s collection of Indigenous art now hangs in the All Nations Sacred Space on the 4th Floor at St. Paul’s.
Created by North Vancouver artist, Jason Adair, whose work is inspired by his Ojibway culture and his connection to Aboriginal Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau’s Woodlands’ style, the ‘Spiritual Journey of the Shaman’ was donated by Larry Garfinkel, owner of Native Northwest and benefactor of local Indigenous artwork within the Vancouver community. The painting was welcomed by patients, staff, Elders, and a women’s hand drum group, Red Women Rising, as well as other supporters who gathered around in a circle to celebrate the unveiling of the piece in early May.
In September 2017, Providence and the First Nations Health Authority held a special Visioning Ceremony and signed a milestone Declaration of Commitment on Cultural Safety and Humility. This ceremony and signing laid the foundation for another milestone day In February 2018, where Providence hosted representatives from First Nations Health Authority at St. Paul’s Hospital for a special event to recognize and launch PHC’s commitment to reconciliation and cultural safety & humility.