The path towards Truth and Reconciliation
Date: September 28, 2021
Unlocking Dietetics is a new monthly series from Alexis Williams, CEO of Dietitians of Canada. It will explore issues important to dietitians and actions taking place across the association. An excerpt will be published each month in Your Weekly Update, with the full article available at www.dietitians.ca/UnlockingDietetics.
This Thursday marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation - a day to recognize and commemorate the tragic history and ongoing legacy of residential schools, and to honour their survivors, their families and communities. Every dietitian has a responsibility to acknowledge and act on the ongoing impact of colonization, residential schools, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism on Indigenous peoples. Today, I want to share some updates, resources as well as an invitation to Indigenous dietitians from Teri Morrow, Chair of the Indigenous Nutritional Knowledge Information Network of DC (IN-KIN) and Lynn Blackwood, DC Board Member.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) made 94 calls to action in their 2015 report, one of which was the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation being marked this week. I’ve been reflecting on the actions the profession has responded to, acknowledging that reconciliation takes time and that there is a long way for us to go as a profession. Here are a few examples for your reflection:
The revised Integrated Competencies for Dietetic Education and Practice version 3.0 (ICDEP v3.0) requires dietitians to “demonstrate an awareness of the ongoing impact of colonization, residential schools, intergenerational trauma and systemic racism on Indigenous peoples in Canada” as a performance indicator. This requirement, along with opportunities like sessions at the 2021 DC National Conference, responds to calls 18, 22 and 24 of the TRC.
TRC call 23 is being supported through member-led research and on-the-ground activities to increase the number of Indigenous professionals working/staying in the healthcare field, and cultural competency (safety) training for healthcare professionals. This was discussed at the Towards Decolonizing Dietetic Practice session and Dietetic Educators meeting, hosted by DC at the 2021 DC National Conference.
In 2013, when Dietitians of Canada staff and members first learned of nutrition experiments in residential schools described by Dr. Ian Mosby, they condemned them as "horrific and unconscionable." We stand by these words today and must continue to reflect on what it means to our profession.
As I mentioned, there is much more to do - it can’t be learned in one webinar or done in one day, it’s a path we all must walk on together. However, committing to dedicate time collectively on September 30, can be a significant step on that path. This is why Dietitians of Canada will be closed for a half day on Thursday as staff dedicate time to pursue additional learning on Truth and Reconciliation as a team. I hope that you can too. I would encourage you to visit the resources listed below, some of which were provided by Teri Morrow in DC’s National Indigenous Peoples Day Message.
In speaking with Teri recently, we talked about the 20 year history of the Aboriginal Nutrition Network at DC. She told me about plans to change the name of the network and to reaffirm its purpose. The new name, IN-KIN-DC, which stands for Indigenous Nutritional Knowledge Information Network of DC, has significant meaning. As written by Teri, “When we think of food and water as family, we honour a kinship that can be shared with our clients and our personal and professional development.” You can read more about the new network name and find information about the network in this announcement.
I have also been speaking with Lynn Blackwood, an Inuk dietitian and DC Board member about how the Dietitians of Canada community can better support Indigenous dietitians. Lynn, Teri and I are working on planning future virtual gatherings to engage DC members. It will be an opportunity to connect with each other and to explore the ways Dietitians of Canada can support Indigenous dietitians. More information will follow in Your Weekly Update and via the IN-KIN network.
I want to thank Teri and Lynn for the open conversations we’ve had and for their dedication to creating change in the profession.
Nyaweh, Nakummek, Miigwech,