Women observe as the young men of the Laich-kwil-tach Dancers perform the Hamatsa during an aboriginal week celebration at Campbell River Hospital Tuesday

VIHA kicks off Aboriginal Week

Dancing, feast, speeches highlight celebration of diversity at Campbell River Hospital

Instead of the Big House, traditional dancing took place in the shadow of the big hospital Tuesday as Island Health hosted a celebration of diversity in Campbell River. The event was part of Island Health’s Aboriginal Week schedule of activities across Vancouver Island.

Guests, which included both patients and staff at Campbell River Hospital, partook of a feast with traditionally baked salmon and bannock, enjoyed performances by the Laich-kwil-tach Dancers and listened as speakers from Island Health’s Aboriginal Health and Aboriginal Employment teams extolled the virtues of cultural security in health care and diversity in employment.

The event was held in the grassy courtyard between the hospital and the Sunshine Wellness Centre, as the large cranes constructing the new hospital loomed in the background.

Raymond Taylor of Alert Bay, right, gives the bannock a thumbs-up as James Quatell looks on during the aboriginal week celebration at Campbell River Hospital Tuesday, June 16, 2015. — J.R. Rardon/Campbell River Mirror

Juliet Bullock, an aboriginal nurse and current Aboriginal Liaison for Island Health, received the staff recognition award from Christina Rozema, hospital site director.

Aboriginal employment advisor Sheila White served as master of ceremonies, and she and Aboriginal employment program coordinator Steve Sxwithul’txw both encouraged Aboriginal youth to explore educational opportunities in a growing health-care field.

Harley Eagle, cultural safety programs facilitator, and Eunice Joe of the First Nations Health Authority both spoke to the needed emphasis on wellness and care with a recognition of and respect for the differences in each individual served. The cultural safety program, said Eagle, is committed to both increase access to health care for Aboriginal peoples while also decreasing the disparity between care for those patients and the general public.

Guests also heard from North Island Hospitals project manager Tom Sparrow and Dave Kruyt, local member of the Island Health board of directors.