Canadian Pharmacists Association
Canadian Pharmacists Association

Pharmacy Check-in: Meet Kalbie Hokanson

Kalbie Hokanson

Kalbie Hokanson, PharmD, APA (she/her)
Pharmacist, Medi-Drugs Clareview
Lab Facilitator, Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Alberta

Taanishii! Kalbie Hokanson is a Metis pharmacist who graduated in 2022 from the University of Alberta. She lives and works on Treaty 6 territory in Alberta and Metis Region 4. Kalbie is currently serving as the Indigenous Pharmacy Professionals of Canada’s secretary, providing support and communications to the IPPC Board of Directors and members. She also works as a pharmacist in the community and as a lab facilitator for the practice skills labs at the University of Alberta.

Q&A with Kalbie

We caught up with Kalbie during Indigenous History Month to talk about her practice and how pharmacists can provide safe, inclusive health care to Indigenous communities.

What is the #1 thing pharmacists can do to create a safe and inclusive space for Indigenous patients?

I feel that the most important thing pharmacists can do to create safer spaces for their Indigenous patients is to make space for self-reflection and learning when it comes to achieving cultural safety. I feel in the blur that can happen for a pharmacist shift, we do not take the time to notice how some of our actions/internalized thoughts and words unintentionally support institutionalized racism and anti-Indigenous racism. The first step in creating a safe space is being able to recognize when you or you organization might be part of the problem. Taking quality time to intentionally have these reflections can set the direction for creating a safe space.

Why is culturally sensitive health care important, especially in a pharmacy setting? 

I feel in pharmacy practice we sometimes minimize the extent to which there is a power imbalance that is felt by our patients. As health-care professionals it is essential that we continue to note to ourselves that we are privileged folks in the pharmacy space. We cannot begin to support culturally safe health care if we do recognize that not only is there a power imbalance, but that this imbalance is more significant to those who are from marginalized communities.

How can pharmacists play a greater role as advocates for inclusive and culturally sensitive health care, especially for the Indigenous community?

I think pharmacists can become better advocates and better educated on Indigenous health by taking the steps to learn about the Indigenous communities around them. There are lots of courses, papers, videos and many other resources available. Pharmacists can also take the time to learn what treaty their pharmacy is located on, and the Indigenous communities that lived on the land before colonization. There are multiple options, but the most important one will be the one that is implemented with positive intention. 

What’s the biggest mistake health-care providers make in caring for Indigenous patients and how can they do better?

The biggest mistake health-care providers make is allowing stereotypes and stigmatism to drive their interactions with Indigenous folks. Far too many times we have seen Indigenous people seriously and irreversibly harmed due to refusal of health-care services. Health-care professionals need to do better by learning about and understanding how their practice might involve anti-Indigenous racism and what steps they can take to change this narrative.

What is the most rewarding part of your pharmacy practice?

The part of my job that gives me the most satisfaction is when I can work with individuals to meet them where they are and focus on what is important to them. In my practice site, a large majority of our patients live with diabetes. I have had the opportunity to use motivational interviewing skills to empower folks to act on what is manageable for them. As a result, I am seeing improvements in not only health outcomes but also my relationship with these folks. This is rewarding to me because I am seen as a trusted professional they can come to with questions or for support.