Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network

The Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network provides an opportunity for decision makers, leaders, policy makers and practitioners to build leadership and improvement capacity by networking, comparing innovative solutions and sharing success stories. Healthcare service providers working in northern and remote areas of Canada face unique challenges with developing, implementing and evaluating effective and sustainable solutions in these regions. The network aims to improve the health status of people living in northern and remote regions of Canada.

2016 Roundtable

On May 11-14, 2016 the Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement (CFHI) held its third Northern and Remote Roundtable in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The roundtable followed a unique one-day Indigenous Cultural Competence Course delivered by CFHI, and concluded with a site visit to the All Nations Healing Hospital in Fort Qu’Appelle on Treaty 4.

Approximately 50 participants attended the roundtable, representing 25 organizations and 10 provinces and territories across Canada’s northern and remote regions. The goal of the event was to further the Canadian Northern and Remote Health Network’s sharing of wise practices that support healthcare delivery improvements in northern and remote Canada.

The four objectives of the roundtable were to:

  • Celebrate network partner successes over the past year, and provide opportunities to share wise practices in leadership and change management;
  • Discuss and build consensus on joint action to advance cultural competency, safety and humility on organizational and system levels;
  • Discuss and share approaches and learning from Indigenous experts in mental health and addictions, with a special focus on joint action on suicide prevention; and
  • Build consensus on joint action on suicide prevention.

Roundtable: Day 1

The roundtable began with presentations that encouraged participants to define cultural competence at individual and organizational levels. For an organization to be culturally competent, participants concluded that leadership is required to begin and maintain change, and that “everyone must play a role and shoulder part of the responsibility”. The importance of listening to Elders and patients (the experts), indigenizing healthcare access points, and institutionalizing the requirement for cultural competence were also discussed.  Keynote speaker Dr. Vianne Timmons, president and vice chancellor of the University of Regina and member of the Bras d'Or Mi'kmaq First Nation in Nova Scotia, challenged participants to take the first step.

Roundtable: Day 2

This day focused on Indigenous suicide prevention and wise practices across mental health systems.  Plenary presentations noted health disparities but emphasized strengths and actions to achieve equality. Participants spent a significant amount of time discussing two of six predetermined topics: approaches to case management in teams for mental health, successes and approaches in culturally based healing, approaches to prevent secondary trauma in employees, wise practices in evaluating client and community outcomes, wise practices in reducing suicide clusters, and integration in mental health.Participants were interested to learn from Carol Hopkins and Brenda Restoule, both nationally renowned experts in Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention. 

Thunderbird and CFHI partnership agreement

A highlight of the roundtable was signing the partnership agreement between CFHI and the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation.  CFHI was honoured to sign its first partnership agreement with an Indigenous organization, and to commit to support the Mental Wellness Continuum Framework.  Carol Hopkins, Executive Director from Thunderbird, and Stephen Samis, Vice President of Programs at CFHI, signed the agreement on behalf of the respective organizations.   

CFHI’s commitments

The roundtable concluded with commitments from CFHI to:

(1) develop a web resource on Indigenous mental health and suicide prevention, which will be made available on the Thunderbird Partnership Foundation’s website;

(2) develop and share stories on suicide prevention strengths; and

(3) coordinate an Indigenous suicide prevention conference in November 2016 in Vancouver BC.   

Participants described the roundtable as hopeful, action orientated, strength based, collaborative, supportive, and powerful.