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BC Cancer Agency unveils new Indigenous art at six cancer centres across BC

Vancouver – BC Cancer Agency is unveiling new Indigenous artwork at its six Centres around the province, creating a safe, welcoming cultural space for Indigenous patients and reflecting the traditional territories on which the Centres sit.
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By prominently displaying Indigenous art, the BC Cancer Agency aims to signal that Indigenous patients and their families will be treated with dignity and respect, and that they can feel accepted and safe from discrimination when attending a BC Cancer Agency facility.
Cultural safety is an ongoing process of actively working to make health care safer and more equitable for Indigenous people. Cultural safety comes when people feel they are in a respectful environment free of racism and discrimination, and feel safe receiving health care.
This art installation is a partnership between the BC Cancer Agency, the First Nations Health Authority, the BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres and Métis Nation BC and is funded by a Canadian Partnership Against Cancer initiative aimed at improving cancer care for First Nations, Métis and Inuit patients in rural and remote communities.
Each of the six regional cancer centres will display two pieces of art – one by First Nations artists and one by Métis artists. 

Vancouver Centre

  • First Nations art by Shain Jackson (Sechelt Nation) & Aaron Moody (Squamish Nation)
  • Métis art by Lisa Shepherd

Surrey Centre

  • First Nations art by Shain Jackson (Sechelt Nation) & Phyllis Atkins (Stó:lō  Nation)
  • Métis art by Savanna Todd

Abbotsford Centre

  • First Nations art – artist to be determined
  • Métis art by Savanna Todd

Vancouver Island Centre

  • First Nations art by William Marrow (Tsawout First Nation)
  • Métis art by Lisa Shepherd

Kelowna Centre

  • First Nations art by Les Louis (Okanagan Nation)
  • Métis art by Savanna Todd

Prince George Centre

  • First Nations art Clayton Gauthier (Carrier Nation)
  • Métis art by Lisa Shepherd

Quick facts:

  • The movement towards cultural safety is about fostering a health care climate that is safer and more equitable for Indigenous people.
  • Providing culturally safe care is especially important in British Columbia as it has the second highest Indigenous population in Canada.
  • BC is home to over 200 Indigenous communities and 32 distinct Nations.
  • Indigenous people make up five per cent of the BC’s population including 155,020 First Nations people, 69,470 Métis and 1,570 Inuit. (2011 figures)
  • BC’s Indigenous population saw 20 per cent growth between 2006 and 2011 compared to five per cent for non-Indigenous people.
  • Indigenous people in BC continue to experience the greatest inequities in health and access to care, and many experience harms and discrimination when receiving services.
  • In July 2015, PHSA – along with all BC’s health authorities and the Ministry of Health – signed the Declaration of Commitment on Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Aboriginal people in BC to address the barriers Indigenous people face when accessing and receiving services, and to work towards embedding cultural safety within health services in BC.


Terry Lake – Health Minister

  • “Today is about ensuring that the culture, history and traditions maintained by Aboriginal communities are honoured, protected and shared in our health system. Focusing on patient-centered care together, with a cultural lens, will help us improve care and support for Aboriginal families undergoing cancer treatments in the province.”

Johnna Sparrow-Crawford – Musqueam band member & breast cancer survivor

  • “As a breast cancer survivor, I’m very grateful to the BC Cancer Agency. If the travelling mammography program hadn’t come to my office, I would be in a very different position than I am today. I am forever grateful and am proud to stand here today to publicly recognize the BC Cancer Agency for their incredible work in making each one of their centres a culturally safe place for all Indigenous people.”

Dr. Malcolm Moore – BC Cancer Agency president

  • “This art installation is an important step in making cancer care more patient-centred and culturally safe for Indigenous people in our province. Making sure patients feel respected and valued helps them focus on healing and recovery – key aspects of the cancer journey.”

Joe Gallagher – First Nations Health Authority CEO

  • “The presence of Indigenous art in the cancer centres is a move toward making Indigenous peoples and culture more visible in health care environments. Often patient journeys take our people to locations that are far from home, these installations create a sense of the familiar, a place where Indigenous patients will feel connection to the traditional territory they are receiving care on. This project is a positive first step in achieving cultural safety together, acknowledging that change is necessary and ensuring the spaces are safe and reflective of the local Indigenous communities.”

Susie Hooper – Métis Nation BC minister responsible for health

  • “As Indigenous people from all over BC, we need to know where we are coming from and have the strength of our families and ancestors with us, in order to move forward on our healing journeys. Having this visual connection to our culture through these beautiful art installments will help ground Métis and First Nations people for the journey they are about to make at the cancer centres.”

Leslie Varley – BC Association of Aboriginal Friendship Centres executive director

  • “BC Cancer Agency’s acknowledgment of Indigenous people through prominent art displays is another important step in creating a safe and appreciative welcoming environment for Indigenous people. BC Cancer Agency has already implemented an Indigenous leadership position, is leading in developing a collaborative and inclusive Provincial Indigenous Cancer Strategy, and requires San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety training for all agency staff. These are outstanding indicators of commitment to culturally inclusive and appropriate services. Bravo BC Cancer Agency!”

Cheryl Ward – PHSA Indigenous Health interim director

  • “When people experience culturally safe health care, they are more likely to access care earlier, and feel more at ease and confident throughout the process of receiving care. Making changes like implementing Indigenous cultural safety training, hiring Indigenous employees and showcasing Indigenous artwork all signal to patients and families that they are welcome and respected. It shows we are taking action to improve care for Indigenous people and working to address racism, stereotyping and discrimination. All of this effort can contribute to Indigenous patients feeling accepted and safe, and can lead to better care and health outcomes.”
BC Cancer Agency, part of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides province-wide specialty health care. It provides a comprehensive cancer control program for the people of British Columbia by working with community partners to deliver a range of oncology services, including prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatment, research, education, supportive care, rehabilitation and palliative care. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter @BCCancer_Agency.

Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) plans, manages and evaluates selected specialty and province-wide health care services across BC, working with the five regional health authorities to deliver province-wide solutions that improve the health of British Columbians. For more information, visit or follow us: Twitter @PHSAofBC, Facebook, YouTube

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For more information or to arrange an interview:

Kevin Sauve
Communications Officer, BC Cancer
Provincial Health Services Authority
PHSA media line: 778-867-7472

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