In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its report “Honouring the Truth, Reconciling for the Future.” The report detailed how colonization historically undermined the health of Indigenous Peoples and how past policies continue to contribute towards the persistent health gap between Indigenous communities and the general population.
At the same time, the Commission released 94 calls to action for reconciliation between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians. Among them was a call to action to “those who can effect change within the Canadian health care system to recognize the value of Indigenous healing practices and use them in the treatment of Indigenous patients in collaboration with Indigenous healers and Elders”.
One example of an organization effecting change is St. Joseph’s Care Group. Located in Thunder Bay, St. Joseph’s Care Group is a catholic health care organization with a unique focus on caring for those with unmet needs. They operate a hospital and several long-term care facilities, while also providing housing support, mental health and addictions support, rehabilitation and palliative care. Given their northern location, they also provide care and support for a large Indigenous population.
In this episode, Pia Lindemann Kristensen is joined by Paul Francis Jr., Vice President of N’doo’owe Binesi, the Indigenous Health, Partnerships and Wellness division of St. Joseph’s Care Group. They discuss the importance of culturally safe care for Indigenous Peoples and explore St. Joseph’s Care Group’s journey to recognize and implement Indigenous healing practices in its health care settings.
Paul Francis Jr. is the Vice President of N’doo’owe Binesi (Healing Thunderbird), the Indigenous Health, Partnerships and Wellness division of St. Joseph’s Care Group in Thunder Bay, Ontario.
A registered social worker, Paul is a graduate of the Master of Social Work Indigenous Field of Study Program at Wilfrid Laurier University and a member in good standing with the Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers. Since 2019, he has maintained a small private practice, Shkode Mkwa Counselling. Paul is committed to his Anishinaabe spiritual practices and enjoys attending and helping with traditional ceremonies. Paul believes in the power of Indigenous healing practices and that possibilities exist to integrate them within the mainstream health care system for the benefit of all.
Paul is Odawa (Anishinaabe) and mixed European ancestry, a member from Wiikwemikong Unceded Territory on Manitoulin Island and is a member of the Bear Clan. Paul is a proud father to Tristan, Royal, Harlow, Ailee and Siinese, with his wife Kyla.