What are A/IHICs and how do they impact health care in the North?
Aboriginal/Indigenous Health Improvement Committees (A/IHICs) are action oriented groups of people who work together to support health and wellness for Indigenous people, families, and communities in Northern BC.
The A/IHICs began in 2005 and there are now eight across the Northern Health (NH) region:
- Lakes District IHIC
- North Coast IHIC
- Northeast AHIC
- Northwest East (Smithers and Area) IHIC
- Omineca AHIC
- Prince George and Area AHIC
- Quesnel and Area IHIC
- Terrace/Kitimat and Area IHIC
NH is committed to partnering with Indigenous peoples and communities, and to building a health care system that honours diversity and provides culturally safe services.
The A/IHICs are made up of many different types of people, including local representation from Indigenous communities and organizations, the First Nations Health Authority, Northern Health, and other sectors.
A/IHICs provide opportunities for new connections and stronger relationships and cultural understandings between diverse communities and sectors working for the health and well-being of Indigenous people and communities.
The members of each A/IHIC bring perspectives and experiences from people who live in their communities and access health care. Through the A/IHICs, Indigenous peoples’ perspectives inform local priorities and solutions!
The work of the A/IHICs is driven by three key questions:
- If I was a new practitioner coming to your community, what would you like me to know about you so that I could serve you better?
- What is it that you need to know so that you can be the best practitioner that you can be?
- What is it that we need to know to be the very best partner that we can be to communities and other organizations?
The A/IHICs operate with the principle that Indigenous health is holistic and seeks balance. At the heart of this view is an understanding that all things – land, water, air, animals, individuals, families, and communities – are connected and in relation to one another. Holistic health is a process that demands a broad and inclusive perspective for addressing health issues.
Over the years, the A/IHICs have undertaken many different projects, including mapping patient journeys across Northern BC. Patient journey and process maps are an opportunity for communities to bring their voice into the health care system and identify opportunities for change in health services, as well as to identity local solutions and concrete actions that can be taken at the local level. The gaps and challenges that were identified can be collaboratively addressed through local strategies and solutions. If you want more information on this project, you can read the full Mapping Summary Report.
Each A/IHIC has also worked to create local cultural resources that support health practitioners’ understanding of Indigenous community cultures, histories, and contexts. Check out the Local Cultural Resources booklet (produced by NH’s Indigenous Health department) for more details.