New Indigenous artwork unveiled at Red Deer Regional Hospital

AHS, Elders and artist partner to enhance Indigenous awareness and relationships

Patients, visitors and staff at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC) have a new opportunity to enhance their awareness of Indigenous culture.

A new mural, created by local Indigenous artist Ryan Jason Allen Willert, can now be viewed in the corridor that links the emergency department with the main part of the hospital.

“We are committed to working with Indigenous leaders, communities and people across Alberta to ensure our health facilities are safe and culturally appropriate spaces for everyone,” says Sarah Hoffman, Alberta’s Minister of Health. “This project is creative and inspires all of us to continue working towards reconciliation and improving health outcomes and services for Indigenous people and families.”

Contracted by the RDRHC Cultural Safety Working Group in consultation with local Elders, the work is intended to foster further cultural awareness throughout the facility.

“The goal of the project was to improve the patient and provider experience and to begin the process of improving culturally safe delivery of care at RDRHC,” said Shannon McCarthy, executive director, RDRHC, and member of the Cultural Safety Working Group.

“This is just one of the many ways we’re working to incorporate Indigenous culture into the healthcare system and living AHS values.”

The piece, titled The Otter, was chosen from three works Willert presented to Elders for selection.

“I’m very pleased they chose this piece for the hospital,” said Willert, who learned the art of black ink drawing from his father, also a well-known Siksika Nation artist. “The otter is a reminder to be present and appreciative. When you learn to appreciate the positive and the negative, life becomes a little bit easier.

“The otter is also a war spirit. He is our partner in battle. No matter what that battle is – illness, mental health, addictions – the otter is here to help us through.”

Cultural Safety Working Groups have been created in AHS facilities across the province, in conjunction with the Indigenous Health Program. The Indigenous Health Program partners with Indigenous peoples, communities and key stakeholders to provide accessible, culturally appropriate health services for First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Alberta.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

-Submitted by Alberta Health Services

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