Impressed by the accomplishments of the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health since it was established at UBC in 2014, a founding donor has committed a second $1 million gift—provided others match them in supporting the Centre’s vision of a future where Indigenous people are leaders in healthcare and where all Indigenous people receive optimal, respectful and culturally safe care.
“The Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health at UBC has proved to be a fantastic initiative to help young Indigenous people and to help healthcare outcomes for Indigenous communities across British Columbia,” says former UBC Chancellor Lindsay Gordon (2014-2020), who made the commitment with his wife, Elizabeth. “We’d love for others to join us in supporting this great initiative with a gift.”
Two $1-million donations made when the Centre opened—one from the Gordons and the other from Rudy, Patricia, Caroline and Rory North—have enabled the Centre to award financial support to hundreds of Indigenous learners, addressing a major barrier for Indigenous youth and students wanting to pursue education and research in the health sciences at UBC.
Thanks to the generosity of these donors and many others, the Centre has also expanded programming and curriculum to support learners to pursue careers in health, conduct research and do outreach to Indigenous communities, all toward the goal of strengthening Indigenous health and wellness.
“Donors to the Centre for Excellence in Indigenous Health at UBC have been absolutely monumental,” says Dr. Nadine Caron, co-director of the Centre with Dr. Martin Schechter. “Through their generosity, donors demonstrate there is passion and compassion outside the walls of UBC, so more students, faculty and staff can come to the Centre to bridge the gap between where Indigenous people are now and where we can be.”
The Centre’s newest training program, the Indigenous Public Health Institutes, introduces learners to public health with an Indigenous lens. This program changed Linda Jones’ perspective on the inequalities that exist for Indigenous populations around the world and what she needs to do to help create a better future for Indigenous people.
“I was so enlightened by the knowledge I received from my peers and instructors that my whole future changed,” says Linda Jones, a ‘Namǥis First Nation member and practicing Indigenous doula who also offers virtual care from Parksville on the traditional lands of the Pentlatch people of the Qualicum First Nation. “Now I want to create new parameters and new narratives for Indigenous mothers on Vancouver Island and throughout Canada.”
The Centre recently developed the UBC 23 24 Indigenous Cultural Safety Training experience to address Calls to Action 23 and 24 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report by delivering an introduction to cultural safety and humility for students across the health disciplines at UBC.
“So far, every program that we’ve developed, every course we’ve created, every opportunity we’ve offered, has had incredible impact personally, in communities and at the university,” says Dr. Caron. “I can’t wait to see what the future holds – I know it’s going to be exciting.”
Donations totaling $2 million for the next five years would continue the exponential growth of the Centre by expanding existing programs, turning ideas for new programs into reality and increasing the number of Indigenous students who enter a health career path.
“Access to healthcare is a basic human right, and yet Indigenous peoples do not have equitable access to it—a wrong that must be corrected,” said Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of the faculty of medicine and vice-president, health at UBC during the faculty of medicine’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. “We look forward to establishing and further developing mutually respectful relationships with Indigenous peoples to successfully realize the pledges regarding education and healthcare that we have made in our response. In doing so, we intend to collectively forge a new path that takes us beyond this past and present while never, ever, ever forgetting it.”