X̱aay DaG̱a Dlaang Society – New Health Governance model adopted


By Rhonda Lee McIsaac —

HlGaagilda Skidegate adopted a new Haida health governance model for the Xaay DaGa Dlaang Society this past month and only a year since the Kaa Dllxaaws Naay Skidegate Band Council agreed to re-organize so that the Health Centre could become an independent entity.

“It’s all come down to this one engagement session where the community gets to vote on what they’ve worked on all these months. I’m nervous and hopeful that the community will be in favour of the Haida Health Governance Model,” said Health Director, Lauren Brown as she sat listening to the questions and comments at the engagement session this past January and waiting anxiously for the vote. 

The Xaay DaGa Dlaang Society was registered in 2016 with an interim Board of five Skidegate members. Part of the work of the interim Board was to develop a Haida Governance Model for the new Society before the 2016, year-end.
The gud 
kangudang challenge was to get the community heavily involved in creating the new model. To do that, three community engagement sessions were held – HlgidGung Kung February 2016, Sk’aagii Kung September 2016, and Taan ChaaGan K’aadii Kung November 2016 – and most of the sessions had over 114 citizens present and actively participating.

The HlGaagilda community worked hard to build a strong foundation for the new society. At each session, members provided input on Haida values and principles, how to select membership, and a process to determine how the Board of Directors would function, including criteria to qualify as a Director of the Xaay DaGa Dlaang Society.

In January, the community finally gathered to see the culmination of their three engagement sessions. The Health Centre staff and Board of Directors hosted a community dinner to unveil the new framework for the community to vote on and adopt.

With a unanimous show of hands, the community adopted the HlGaagilda-made, Haida centered model of health and wellness. “This is exciting work,” stated Brown. “We’re doing something that has not been done before. By both engaging the community and including our Haida culture into this model we are empowering the Skidegate community. These are important steps to decolonizing our people,” she said.

Investing energy into the engagement process by involving the community has developed a Governance Model that is unique. One that is based in Xaaydas giinaa.ah cultural ways of the Haida and is expected to make a difference in community health and wellness, grow healthy relationships and help citizens and their loved ones in their everyday lives. 

Health and well-being is an ongoing process and the next steps for the society include filling out the Board with clan members and citizens nominated for four positions at large.

Fast Facts

  • Over three engagement sessions, the Guiding Principles and Values for the society and board were validated and prioritized. These include: promoting and using Haida medicines, language, culture, traditions, and Laws as well as organizational principles.
  • The community put together 16 Key Values for the society and board to guide their expectations of behavior and composure while employed, serving on the board or interacting with the community and organization. Some of these include accountability, honesty, non-judgment and being accessible to the community.
  • There are seven key roles for society members including representing the voice of the community, be accountable back to the community, appoint the Board of Directors and ensuring communication between all levels of the society, membership and staff.
  • Members of the society will be appointed by clans, and the wider community will also elect two adults/elders and two youth. 
  • There is a clear set of mandatory criteria for people chosen to be Society members
  • The Board of Directors has three main roles to guide their work with the society, members and community. There will be five directors chosen from the applicants’ pool who meet the criteria to stand as Directors of the Xaay DaGa Dlaang Society.
  • The Health Director and the staff are also a part of the new Haida Health Governance Model and will continue to work and report to the Board of Directors, society members and larger community.

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