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Powell River Division of Family Practice changes name

Renaming to qathet Division of Family Practice a part of reconciliation with Tla’amin Nation 

Today, Powell River Division of Family Practice officially changed its name to qathet Division of Family Practice.

Tla’amin Nation leadership supports the use of the word qathet, which means “working together” and is pronounced “KA-thet.” The name change reflects the division’s commitment to reconciliation and acknowledgment of Indigenous-specific racism in the health care system, according to a media release from the community-based group of family physicians.

“It’s the doctor’s job to diagnose illness and help us to stay well,” stated Tla’amin executive councillor Losa Luaifoa. “Changing the name of the local division of family practice is an action that recognizes that the legacy of colonialism is a sickness that must be acknowledged and removed. We raise our hands to the division for their leadership and contributions to a place where we can all thrive together.”

The division began exploring a name change in 2017 as part of a process to bring attention to reconciliation and the reality of poor health outcomes for Indigenous peoples in Canada, in part due to racism in the health care system. The division membership voted on the name change on June 8, 2022, and were overwhelmingly in favour.

“Changing the name of our division is a small but significant step along the path of truth and reconciliation,” stated Dr. David May, board chair and physician lead for the division. “It gets us closer to genuine community collaboration.”

qathet Regional District changed its name in 2018, and Tla’amin gifted the word “qathet” to reflect the close ties between the nation and regional district, and their mutual commitment to reconciliation.

qathet Division of Family Practice members practice throughout the regional district, including at the recently renamed qathet General Hospital.

“This is the first division of family practice in British Columbia to have a name change based on reconciliation,” stated Guy Chartier, the division’s executive director. “We’re hopeful that our journey becomes a catalyst for other conversations across the province. The future of our health care will be shaped by the kind of relationships we build today.”

Israel Wood Powell, for whom Powell River is named, was BC’s first superintendent for Indian affairs from 1872 through 1889, and a proponent of many harmful colonial policies including residential schools and removing Indigenous children from their families, as well as banning the potlatch and Indigenous languages, the release stated.

qDoFP name change timeline:

2017 - The division’s board is diversified, opening the door for non-physicians to join as community directors.

2018 - Dr. Evan Adams, a member of Tla’amin Nation, is appointed to the division’s board as a community director.

2019 - Doctors of BC and First Nations Health Authority sign the Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Safety and Humility in Health Services Delivery for First Nations and Indigenous people in BC.

2019/2020 - The division’s board engages in conversations on the organization’s role in cultural safety and humility.

2020 - The division’s board of directors endorses its Declaration of Commitment to Cultural Humility and Safety.

2020/2021 - Division board members and staff complete San’yas Indigenous Cultural Safety Training, education and awareness for members.

2021 - The division invites Tla’amin Council members to discuss reconciliation at a division board meeting.

2021 - The Tla’amin Council supports the name “qathet” for the division.

2022 - The division hosts information sessions for members.

2022 - The division’s members vote on name change (June 8).

qathet Division of Family Practice is a community-based group of family physicians working together to improve patient care. The division, which was founded in 2010, works collaboratively with the community and health-care partners to increase access to primary care and improve professional satisfaction for physicians. Membership includes 38 family physician members, 13 specialists and three nurse practitioners.

Divisions of family practice are funded by the General Practice Service Committee (GPSC), which is a partnership of BC Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC.