Healthy Communities

2018 Healthy Communities Conference: Creating Partnerships for Wellbeing – Owen Sound

On May 8th and 9th I attended the Healthy Communities Conference in Owen Sound representing Lerners who was a sponsor at the event. The goal of the conference was to unpack the root causes of Indigenous health inequities in the Grey-Bruce region and to create partnerships for wellbeing. The conference sessions explored cultural safety, local historical context, reconciliation, and community development.

I was one of approximately 100 attendees, all of whom were deeply committed to ‘doing their part’. I felt a sense of gratitude to be in attendance and I was routinely asked, “How does Lerners fit in”?

I responded by saying that our firm has been representing clients in the region for years and that our personal injury team recently opened an office in Owen Sound to better serve our clients in the Grey-Bruce region. We work closely with a number of health care providers in the area and we know working with Indigenous clients includes recognizing that their rights draw not only on common law and civil law, but also on Indigenous legal traditions.

While my answer is true, it really only scratches the surface. With more time, I would have discussed the importance of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Report on the legal profession. Call to Action # 27 of the Report states:

We call upon the Federation of Law Societies of Canada to ensure that lawyers receive appropriate cultural competency training, which includes the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, Indigenous law, and Aboriginal – Crown relations. This will require skills-based training in intercultural competency, conflict resolution, human rights, and anti-racism.

Last week’s conference provided me with the opportunity to continue undertaking this ever-evolving duty. While I will never be able to fully understand the Indigenous experience, I am now better equipped to work with Indigenous communities and individuals.

Congratulations are in order to the Grey Bruce Health Unit for organizing such a successful and important event. Thank you.

Be sure to visit the Grey Bruce Health Unit on  Facebook and Twitter to see more photos from the conference.

Karen Simpson

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