The Island Health Aboriginal Recruitment and Retention Strategy is our approach to creating and maintaining a sustainable workforce by increasing the number of Aboriginal peoples working in healthcare on Vancouver Island. Our 4 person Aboriginal Employment Team is tasked with operationalizing our strategy and with moving the organization towards achieving a representative workforce by the year 2020.

The Strategy is built on five foundational pillars:

1.  Community Engagement, Establishing Trust and Partnerships with Aboriginal Communities and Organizations – Establishing both formal and informal partnerships to develop a foundation of trust with First Nations communities and organizations.
2. Building for the Future – Providing education/information to Aboriginal people who are not currently qualified for employment in healthcare allowing them to explore health related career opportunities
3. Building Organizational Aboriginal Awareness – Providing information / education to Island Health employees on cultural safety in the workplace and working with Aboriginal peers.
4. Promoting Island Health Employment Opportunities to Aboriginal Job Seekers (Recruitment) – Attracting qualified Aboriginal workers to professional and healthcare support opportunities at Island Health.
5. Maximizing Aboriginal Employee Retention – Identifying issues affecting the retention of Aboriginal employees and undertaking strategies to remove barriers.

One of the unique features of our program is our Aboriginal Employment Coach position that provides one on one support to external as well as internal job applicants in the form of coaching to improve resumes, cover letters and interview preparation.

We started tracking Aboriginal employee data in April 2011 and had 199 employees (1.99% of workforce) who self-identified as being of Aboriginal descent. In May 2015, 506 employees (2.59% of workforce) self-identified as being of Aboriginal descent.

With a strong team in place and the support of the Island Health Executive, the program received long term base funding in 2013. The Program has focused on its 5 foundational pillars and has met or exceeded our Aboriginal employments targets. Our efforts have also been recognized provincially (Simon Fraser University Exemplary Initiative Diversity Award) and nationally (Canada's Best Diversity Employers Award 2013, 2014, 2015).

Contact Person:

Title: Strategist, Talent Acquisition & Retention

Contact information: rod.oconnell@viha.ca

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