Indigenous Pharmacy Professionals of Canada: A year in review
Amy Lamb, BSP
It was nearly one year ago that the Indigenous Pharmacy Professionals of Canada (IPPC) was announced to pharmacists and pharmacy stakeholders at CPhA’s 2022 Canadian Pharmacy Conference. At the time, the organization’s founder, Dr. Jaris Swidrovich, and I introduced the vision for IPPC: a community that empowers and increases representation of Indigenous pharmacy professionals, with a mission to contribute to the evolution of pharmacy practice to better understand, resolve and prevent Indigenous health systems inequity, anti-Indigenous racism and inequitable health disparities for Indigenous patients. It was, and still is, a major undertaking, but we wanted to share some highlights from our first year and preview some of what’s next for IPPC!
Amy Lamb reflects on the IPPC's first year and the many milestones achieved.
Once the organization secured funding, we established operations. I moved into the Chief Executive Officer position, and we hired Dr. Gezina Baehr as our Chief Operating Officer to lead our projects. We then accepted applications for 12 positions on our board of directors, including women, men and 2 spirit individuals to represent diverse Indigenous and pharmacy practice perspectives. The board is composed of pharmacists from hospital practice and directorship, community pharmacy, pharmacy consulting, research and academia, and includes a registered pharmacy technician. Board member ancestries include First Nations, Inuit and Métis spread over ranging Nations and Treaty Territories. We introduced these inspiring professionals during Pharmacy Appreciation Month. If you are looking for career inspiration and Indigenous health practice considerations, check out the posts on our social media channels on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!
With our board and operations in place, we were able to focus our efforts on activities contributing to our mission and vision. In consultation with Indigenous communities across the country, many national reports have been completed in an effort to address the historic and ongoing harms to Indigenous Peoples in Canada, including the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action. These reports make consistent recommendations regarding systemic health issues for Indigenous patients, and increasing the number of practising Indigenous health professionals and empowering their voices and perspectives is one that is incredibly important to us. In partnership with CPhA, we proudly launched the IPPC Indigenous Pharmacy Scholarship this year, which will provide PharmD and pharmacy technician students access to education funding, reducing financial barriers and enhancing the interest of Indigenous youth in a pharmacy career. We’re looking forward to announcing our inaugural scholarship recipients this summer.
We also launched our “Orange Shirt Campaign for Pharmacy Professionals,” with an Every Child Matters shirt designed specifically for pharmacy professionals by a First Nations artist from Songhees First Nation. The proceeds from the sales of these shirts will go directly to the Cheryl Swidrovich Indigenous Pharmacy Fund, which honors our founder’s late mother and the intergenerational survivors of residential schools.
Breaking down barriers
IPPC has received numerous requests for consultation from pharmacy stakeholders who have the intention to accept their own Truth and their role in Reconciliation, and wish to bridge the gaps in comprehension, training, standards and practice that continue to contribute to Indigenous health inequity. Our organization is engaged in reviewing research proposals, pharmacy regulation consultations, third-party payer collaborations and reform, policy recommendations, and Indigenous health and cultural competency training for multiple stakeholders.
This work is founded in challenges and barriers. Much of the pharmacy practice evolution that is required to address historical and current harms to Indigenous communities is rooted in established systems of operations, and in denial of the holistic factors involved in health that occur outside of the biomedical model of medicine. As Indigenous pharmacy professionals, we are representing 2 identities, and bridging those realms requires extensive collaboration and consultation from stakeholders, leaders, decision-makers and knowledge keepers on both sides.
Innovation and advocacy are critical elements required to drive pharmacy practice evolution. The structural and systemic gaps and barriers for Indigenous patients are vast, but the pharmacy model has the potential to meet these needs through expanded scope, collaborative practice models and reform of internal systems that exacerbate or contribute to these barriers. IPPC seeks to empower our members, and all pharmacy professionals, with the connections, innovations and foundational training to innovate these solutions. Internally, we are actively pursuing research grants and other funding opportunities to lead the development of training, practice tools and policy recommendations for pharmacy professionals and our systems.
Communications and community
In terms of membership and communications, IPPC will be formally represented by a new website in development by Indigenous web design company, Animikii. The site will include a members-only area, serving to connect our community and empower them with opportunities and resources. In the spring, we launched the first edition of our newsletter, Shared Wisdom, which highlighted the official membership process, our first AGM and key events and deliverables. Membership is now open for all pharmacy professionals (pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy assistants) with Indigenous ancestry, through a portal that will protect their documents that identify their ancestry. We are currently considering other potential membership types, including organizational and industry partners as non-voting allies. Watch for updates this fall!
This August, our board will meet for a structured strategic planning and board development gathering. Communal healing through community and culture will take place, and IPPC members are invited to join us for fireside evening events at Dakota Dunes Resort, in Whitecap, Saskatchewan, which will include local cultural presentations, music, dancing and networking. IPPC was founded to resolve a significant gap in safety, including feelings of isolation and prejudice, among its members. We look forward to this and many events where our members can ‘come home’ to our new community.
This Indigenous History Month, please follow our collaborative campaign with the Canadian Pharmacists Association, which includes interviews with some of our board members, an Indigenous health resource round-up, and some IPPC-led education regarding the history behind Indigenous health disparity in Canada.
We’re looking forward to the year to come, the connection to our members and our communities and the empowerment of Indigenous voices and perspectives in the evolution of pharmacy practice!
Amy Lamb, BSP
Chief Executive Officer
Indigenous Pharmacy Professionals of Canada
How to get involved
- If you are an Indigenous pharmacy professional, or want to be, we want to hear from you! Email our organization to become a member, and follow us on our social media channels!
- If you are a non-Indigenous pharmacy professional, follow us on our social media channels, and watch for opportunities to contribute to upcoming projects and education offerings as we seek to evolve pharmacy practice!
- If you are a pharmacy or health system leader, operator, or innovator, we welcome invitations to provide consultation and partnership.
- If you are an Indigenous community leader, knowledge keeper, or Indigenous health advocate who wants to contribute to our vision, we would be honored to hear your story.
- If you are an industry supporter, we welcome opportunities for partnered funding for our intended initiatives!