L to R: Jocelyn Raikes, Provincial Registration and Data Coordinator; Cheryl Ward, Interim Director of Indigenous Health at PHSA and San’yas ICS curriculum developer; Jessa Bear, ICS Online Facilitator; Diane Smylie, ICS Provincial Director; Leila Monib, ICS Provincial Practice Lead; Gertie Mai Muise, Provincial Director of Aboriginal Health Access Centre Transformation at the AOHC and former Associate Director of SOAHAC; Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Indigenous Health Lead at the South West LHIN; Michèle Parent-Bergeron, Provincial ICS Practice Lead

It’s been an exciting summer for the Ontario Indigenous Cultural Safety (ICS) Program, which celebrated the launch of its new brand in June and July, complete with a new logo designed by Lisa Boivin, a member of the Deninu Kue First Nation, interdisciplinary artist, and a MSc candidate at the Rehabilitation Sciences Institute at University of Toronto Faculty of Medicine.

The ICS program is also marking the launch of its online training for health providers across the province. The program, which began in 2014, was developed for Ontario in partnership with San’yas ICS training – a program of the Provincial Health Services Authority of British Columbia. It is led and administered through the Southwest Ontario Aboriginal Health Access Centre (SOAHAC) and was originally funded through the South West LHIN. The ICS program now works across LHINs and all health/public health sectors to build collaborative partnerships that accelerate organizational and systemic changes to improve Indigenous patient experiences. Focused on eliminating systemic colonial narratives and stereotypes held by health and social service providers (usually unconscious), the ICS program aims to surface and address any and all biases that can cause harm and maintain barriers to equitable access for Indigenous people, families and communities. 

Using an innovative and hands-on approach of facilitated online learning, the ultimate goal of the ICS program is to ensure that Indigenous people can trust they will be treated with empathy, dignity and respect when seeking health and social services.

On June 15 in London, local Traditional Knowledge Keeper Liz Akiwenzie led a celebration and traditional ceremony to honour number of people who helped guide the development of the ICS program and ensure its success. Honourees included: Brian Dokis, Executive Director, SOAHAC; Kelly Gillis, VP of Strategy, System Design and Integration, South West LHIN; Lindsay Blackwell of the MOHLTC; Gertie Mai Muise, Director of Indigenous Strategy and Relations, AHACs, AOHC; Cheryl Ward, Director of Indigenous Health at PHSA and San’yas ICS curriculum developer; Guy Hagar, formally of SOAHAC; Jessa Bear, ICS Facilitator, SOAHAC; Vanessa Ambtman-Smith, Indigenous Health Lead, South West LHIN; Dr. Chris Mackie, London-Middlesex Medical Officer and CEO.

The new ICS logo, which features Boivin’s deer painting, was developed in consultation with the program’s partners, and the design is meant to be a meaningful representation of what the program aims to achieve, as reflected in ICS’s statement that accompanied the logo release: “The deer embodies generosity by giving us his flesh for nourishment, hide for clothing, bones for tools, and antlers for Sweatlodge. Deer’s generosity helps us to survive. Similarly, cultural safety training provides for us by offering intellectual nourishment for learners and the tools to interact with one another in a good way. Like the Deer, cultural safety provides for many needs. It is a versatile knowledge that is linked to all areas of life -- not just in the clinic or the office. Cultural safety must be practiced everywhere.”