Authored by the CACAP Advocacy Committee (Drs. Jaswant Guzder, Amy Gajaria, Chris Wilkes, Irfan Mian, Laurence Katz, Chelcie Soroka, Raj Rasasingham)
The Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (CACAP) joins in unequivocal support with Indigenous peoples across our nation as Canadians mark the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on September 30th. As an organization, CACAP advises our members to take time on September 30th to expand their awareness of Canada’s national history of Indigenous cultural genocide and to make a commitment to use this awareness to improve allyship with Indigenous communities in Canada. Additionally, CACAP takes this opportunity to reinforce our solidarity with the diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples and their descendants, by listening and learning from the wisdom of heterogenous Indigenous peoples and communities across the vast continent of Turtle Island. We offer our support to further progressive joint efforts with health and community partners to promote healing and reparation in alliance with First Nations and Inuit peoples. As a largely non-Indigenous organization who have a responsibility to equitably provide mental healthcare to Indigenous youth, we recognize that this significant initial national commemoration of this cultural genocide is an opportunity to expand our reflection, remembering and seeking authentic knowledge of Canada’s colonial legacy impacting Indigenous families and ancestors. We also acknowledge that standing in solidarity with Indigenous communities means creating space on this day for Indigenous peoples to grieve and not have the responsibility to educate non-Indigenous Canadians on these issues. We support the 2019 UN Declaration of Indigenous Right to Health that is embedded in the spirit of this National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. We commit ourselves to working collaboratively with Indigenous communities and peoples to amplify their on-going efforts fighting for equitable access to mental healthcare on and off reserve consistent with Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.
We join in dedicated efforts of advocacy and allyship that are essential to transforming partnerships of mental health service, to redress the gaps and failures that have failed to adequately validate the dignity and health needs of Indigenous peoples and their children, youth and families.
We are aware the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action were only a beginning of a national process to move away from denial in the long silences of histories. As children and parents struggle with systemic silences, denial and discrimination as an aftermath of this historic legacy of our settler society, we strive to take our roles in listening to Indigenous communities as these historical traumas and losses, deaths and recognition of cultural genocide resonate through the generations of the Indigenous peoples. We join in grief and hope that we will be better partners in promoting the training of Indigenous mental health workers and child psychiatrists across the nation by also supporting integration of Indigenous ways of knowing in healing and reparation efforts. As physicians we will undertake to contributing constructively and with humility to acknowledging, addressing, and undoing the enduring evidence of systemic and institutional racism including the cruel legacy of residential schools. CACAP marks September 30th not only as a first National Statutory Day dedicated to cultural genocide but also as a renewal of our professional mandate to be allies for thoughtful partnerships shaping our work and care to the unique needs of Indigenous populations in Canada.