Honouring Indigenous children: past, present and future

BC Children’s Hospital strives to be a place where all children receive care and compassion. But we can’t build a better future without recognizing our past: Canada’s history of colonialism, and the harmful impact of residential schools that Indigenous children and families experience to this day.

As part of an ongoing commitment to reconciliation, a mural was commissioned to welcome visitors to campus—and to signify BC Children’s unwavering commitment to Indigenous children and families.

The mural is by Ovila “Ovi” Mailhot, a Nlaka’pamux and Sto:lo artist who is guided by the artistic traditions of his parents and ancestors. Working on this mural was particularly meaningful for him, as he drew inspiration from his mother and grandmother during the creation process. “I wanted to represent the connection between child and mother, and the importance of family healing,” said Ovi.

The mural was brought to the Teck Acute Care Centre on September 28, 2023, where the BC Children’s and Women’s Indigenous Health team hosted an unveiling event in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

 

The Indigenous Health team, led by Executive Director Sherri Di Lallo, works on a broad spectrum of initiatives. They are guided by four goals: Indigenous-led health care practices and services, cultural safety, collaborative practice and capacity building. The mural is a recent initiative, but other projects include the introduction of additional Indigenous Patient Navigators on campus, the creation of a self-identification process that has improved access to the Indigenous Patient Care Team, and policy work addressing anti-Indigenous racism in BC’s health care system.

While much of the team’s work happens behind the scenes, Ovi’s mural, supported by the generosity of donors, is a beacon of warmth for all who come to campus. It’s a symbol of hope and comfort for Indigenous visitors, and a proud reminder that every child matters.

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