Jocelyn Raikes, Provincial Registration and Data Coordinator; Cheryl Ward, Interim Director of Indigenous Health at PHSA and San’yas ICS curriculum developer; Jessa Bear, ICS Online Facilitator; Diane Smylie, ICS Provincial Director; Leila Monib, ICS Provincial Practice Lead; Gertie Mai Muise, Provincial Director of AHAC Transformation at the Association of Ontario Health Centres and former Associate Director of SOAHAC; Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Indigenous Health Lead at the South West LHIN; Michèle Parent-Bergeron, Provincial ICS Practice Lead

The Ontario Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Program is celebrating its growth into a province wide initiative and revealing a new brand. The initiative, which began in 2014 as an online training program for health providers in the South West, has since expanded across Ontario with a focus on health system transformation.

“Our goal is for Indigenous people to trust that they will be treated with empathy, dignity and respect when seeking health and social services,” says Diane Smylie, Provincial Director. “There is a need to address service provider bias related to the legacies of colonization that continue to affect the health of Indigenous people.” Research shows that unconscious bias and stereotyping leads to delayed treatment and misdiagnosis, leading to poorer health outcomes. “Some people may also avoid particular health settings because they are not confident that they will be treated with respect.”

Smylie and her colleagues point out that online training is just one component of a much larger, necessary shift in awareness within the health system. “We are really pushing this forward – expanding our team and working across the province to drive change in a way that builds people up.” The online training is directed to all professionals working in the Ontario health system.

Smylie says that there are a number of key people to thank for the success and growth of the program. “As we expand our reach across Ontario, we acknowledge the success and guidance of the key partners who made this possible.” The online training program was developed for Ontario in partnership with San’yas ICS training – a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority of British Columbia. It is led and administered through the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) with financial support from the South West LHIN and Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) . “A number of key people worked together over years to make this possible,” says Smylie. The list of honoree’s includes Guy Hagar, the first “Cultural Safety Trainer” hired to interface with provincially funded health services providers within the South West LHIN; Gertie Mai Muise, Provincial Director of AHAC Transformation at the Association of Ontario Health Centres and former Associate Director of SOAHAC who initiated the first Ontario specific ICS training in close alignment and partnership with Cheryl Ward, Interim Director of Indigenous Health at PHSA and San’yas ICS curriculum developers. Other Ontario champions include Brian Dokis, Executive Director, SOAHAC, Members of the South West LHIN Aboriginal Committee, Vanessa Ambtman-Smith and Kelly Gillis from the South West LHIN; Dr. Chris Mackie, London-Middlesex Medical Officer of Health & CEO; Lindsay Blackwell from the MOHLTC; and Jessa Bear Ontario’s first, San’yas trained Online Facilitator, who continues with us as a Lead Facilitator.

The Ontario ICS program will host a celebration and a traditional ceremony led by local Traditional Knowledge Keeper Liz Akiwenzie to honour those who have made it possible. Media welcome.

Ontario ICS Program Ceremony and Celebration Thursday, June 15, 2017 from 10am-12pm at Innovation Works Common Space, 201 King Street, London ON