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CNO observes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Today, on the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, we remember the legacy of this country's residential school system and honour the survivors, their families and their communities.

In December of 2015, ​the Truth and Reconciliation Commission made public its final report, which detailed the history of Indigenous children who were physically and sexually abused in government boarding schools. The report confirmed that at least 3,200 children died from tuberculosis, malnutrition and other diseases resulting from poor living conditions, but estimated the actual number to be closer to 6,000. This year, several unmarked graves at former residential school sites have been identified, and the number of confirmed deaths continues to grow.

To redress the legacy of residential schools and advance the process of Canadian reconciliation, the final report included 94 calls to action, directed to all levels of government and stakeholders with the power to effect change in key industries. CNO has taken steps to address the report’s calls to action relevant to health care—removing barriers and improving access to safe care is a patient safety issue aligned with our purpose, to protect the public by promoting safe nursing practice.

In 2019, CNO supported national efforts to revise the RN and RPN national competencies to include the calls to action from the final report. The new competencies require students to acquire knowledge of the commission and its findings, and advocate for the use of Indigenous Peoples’ health knowledge and healing practices in collaboration with the client and/or Indigenous healers and Elders (item 24).

When the new competencies were released, RN and RPN programs were required to map the competencies to their curricula, demonstrating theory, application and evaluation components in their programs. Through our Program Approval process, CNO determined that all practical nursing and baccalaureate nursing programs in Ontario passed this requirement.

Several initiatives have been created to fulfill the call to action to “provide cultural competency training for all healthcare professionals” (item 23). CNO is embedding cultural competency and the principles of diversity, equity and inclusion in our current efforts to modernize our practice standards. The new standards, when released, will have renewed emphasis on patients’ values and culturally safe care. We are also working toward embedding the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our Quality Assurance Program. Additionally, CNO is working to ensure staff, Council, and committee members have cultural competency training by conducting a series of workshops on anti-racism and anti-discrimination.

In June 2020, Council members broadly supported starting future meetings with a land acknowledgment. To ensure thoughtful implementation, Council further researched and reflected on the idea and participated in several workshops about diversity, equity and inclusion—including one about Indigenous Peoples’ issues, led by a nurse who is a member of the Temagami Nation. As of September 2021, Council begins their meetings with a land acknowledgement. 

At today’s Council meeting, CNO Council President, Sandra Robinson, acknowledged she was chairing the digital meeting from Toronto, on land that is the traditional territory of many nations, including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. These lands continue to be home to many First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.

Page last reviewed September 30, 2021