Improving Care and Reducing Overdose Risk for Indigenous People Living with Opioid Use Disorder through Partnering with Indigenous Elders at the Ki'lala Lelum (KL) Health Centre: Health System Transformation and the Results of a Prospective Cohort Study

This webinar included three interrelated presentations. The first described the partnership model of care at Ki'lala Lelum, including findings from staff interviews that explored their experiences implementing this model. The second presented the quantitative and qualitative findings of a prospective cohort study investigating the impacts of connecting with Indigenous Elders as part of routine primary care among Indigenous adults living with Opioid Use Disorder (OUD). The stories of nine Indigenous people living with OUD who connected with an Elder as part of their primary care will be shared. The third discussed a Chronic Pain Management Program designed for Indigenous people living with OUD and chronic pain and shares its evaluation findings.

By the end of this webinar, participants recognize the importance of including Indigenous Elders in the care of Indigenous People and describe the impacts on providers and patients living with OUD.

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Our Speakers

Elder Bruce Robinson: My name is Owii`lo`ly`eyum`gaudlth`ni`Ki`insque, Grizzly Bear with a Big Heart. I am of the Nisga’a people from the Wilp (house) of Nii’is’lis’eyan (our chief), Laxgiibuu (wolf) tribe, from the village of Gingolx (Kincolith) on the Nass River, raised in a traditional home. I have been in the lower mainland since 1970 to attend school and remained here to live, graduated high school in 1975/76. I worked in the fishing Industry for over 32 years. I am currently a Family Support Elder and Cultural Advisor for Vancouver Aboriginal Child & Family Services Society and Urban Native Youth Association – Ki’lala Lelum clinic ( I also provide Cultural Advisory, Protocols and Elder Support for the Broadway Youth Resource Center as needed.

Elder Sandy Lambert is a member of the Tallcree First Nation from Northern Alberta but calls Vancouver home. Elder Sandy is External Liaison/Elder for DUDES Club, one of the community partners of Ki’lala Lelum. With the many years of volunteering with non-profit organizations/non-government organizations, attending HIV/AIDS conferences/planning/organizing, participation on research committees/projects provincially and nationally. These opportunities have attributed to healthy partnerships and supportive allies for the growth of Ki’lala Lelum and other community partnerships including off/ on reserve rural and remote.

David Tu, MD is a Family Physician, community-based researcher, and UBC Clinical Assistant Professor with a focus on Indigenous Peoples Health, HIV, and substance use disorder. He currently oversees a three-year Health Canada funded SUAP grant focused on reducing harms related to the toxic drug overdose crisis. His family practice has been centered in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside for the past 21 years, and currently works at the Kí’lala Lelum Health Centre. He is the Primary Care Co-Lead and Board Treasurer of Kí’lala Lelum and is a preceptor with the UBC Aboriginal Family Practice Residency Stream. He has worked previously with the VCH STOP HIV/AIDS program and was a longstanding Clinical Associate on St. Paul’s HIV ward. He lives in Vancouver with his wife and two children.

Jill Fikowski is a White, cis-gender woman, Settler and uninvited guest who benefits off living and working on the stolen ancestral lands of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With humility and gratitude, my work also takes place on sovereign Indigenous lands across Turtle Island. Jill has been fortunate to learn from and work with the team at Ki’lala Lelum for the past 2 years, holding the role of Program Evaluator and Research Manager on SUAP funded initiatives. She has worked in the field of substance use and mental health for the past 18 years and continues to learn and grow through this work.

Claudia Langemeyer is the Program Coordinator for the Chronic Pain Management Program (CPMP) at Kí’lala Lelum and a graduate student at the University of British Columbia’s School of Population and Public Health. Prior to joining the CPMP team, Claudia worked as an outreach case manager in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighborhood.

Wajid Khan is an international medical graduate and Research Assistant who joined Ki’lala Lelum in 2021. A passion for community-based research has led him to work with people who use drugs in the Downtown Eastside to address healthcare inequalities. He is currently working towards his journey of becoming a culturally competent family physician.