*Content Warning* The following information relates to and references Residential Schools, Assimilation, Ongoing Harm, Colonial Impacts.
September 30, 2021 – The Ontario Dental Association was created more than 150 years ago with a goal of providing quality dental care to Ontarians. But like any institution with a long history in Canada, we recognize inequalities in oral health that continue to exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities are a result of colonialism, racism and social exclusion.
There is no quick fix to a situation that has been 400 years in the making, but we are open to listening and learning and are committed to being part of the solution. We have begun the process of consultation and collaboration needed to become stronger allies and trustworthy partners to Indigenous communities in Ontario.
Our Indigenous Oral Health Committee is currently working on a course of action to address disparities in access to dental care. Inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action, the ODA is committed to working with Indigenous communities to:
- Build and improve on culturally aware oral health-care education.
- Advocate for clean water and food security in First Nations communities (including access to fluoridated community water supplies).
- Empower Indigenous communities to be actively involved in determining and controlling oral health programs affecting them.
Since 1982, the ODA and its members have been providing dental care services to Indigenous communities across Northern Ontario through our Remote Areas Program, and this is a program we hope to be involved with for generations to come. We’re also expanding and creating new educational resources for our more than 10,000 member dentists across the province on culturally informed practice and survivor-informed care.
These are just the first steps in the journey towards reconciliation but it’s a path we’re dedicated to staying on.
If you need emotional support on this issue, there’s a 24-Hour Residential School Crisis Line: 1-866-925-4419. More resources can be found on the First Nations Health Authority website.