In July 2022, more than 300 physicians, residents, medical students, and other health advocates from throughout the Pacific gathered for the Pacific Region Indigenous Doctor’s Congress (PRIDoC) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, on the unceded traditional territories of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations.
PRIDoC was founded in 2002, meets every two years, and is made up of six jurisdictions: The Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada (IPAC)1, ‘Ahahui ‘o nā Kauka2, Te Ohu Rata o Aotearoa (Te ORA)3, The Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP)4, The Australian Indigenous Doctors’ Association (AIDA)5, and The Medical Association for Indigenous People of Taiwan (MAIPT)6.
The intention is to provide a safe space for Indigenous medical practitioners, residents, medical students and allies from throughout the Pacific Rim to share knowledge and experiences, to advocate for better health outcomes for Indigenous populations, and to come together in collegial support.
The theme of PRIDoC 2022 was ‘Connecting to the Spirit of the Land’. Jurisdictions were asked to provide ‘fresh faces and perspectives’ as keynote speakers. RANZCOG Fellow Dr Kasey Tawhara, Ngāti Raukawaki te Tonga, was selected by the Board to represent Te ORA in her specialty. Working in an area with a very high Māori population, where inequitable outcomes blight the community, Dr Tawhara focuses on the prevention of cervical cancer, equitable outcomes across her specialty, and cultural safety with RANZCOG. Dr Tawhara has been very active in the Te Rōpu Whakakaupapa Urutā (COVID-19) efforts to secure appropriate resources and positive health outcomes for Māori communities.
Dr Tawhara’s keynote was supported by Taonga Puhoro artist Elizabeth Grey, Ngāti Rēhia, Ngāti Uepōhatu, Tama Ūpoko ki te awa o Wanganui me Ngāti Tūwharetoa, from the Haumanu Collective.
Elizabeth’s skillful display of traditional muscianship was coupled with imagery from artist Turumakina Duley, Tuhoe, Ngati Awa, Ngaiterangi, who’s artwork ‘Te Ahuri Mowai, a Safe Haven’ depicts a space of creation and a space for potential which needs to be nourished and nurtured. The accompaniment of these two Māori artists to Dr Tawhara’s words created a moving and stimulating keynote address, which held the PRIDoC delegation enthralled.
Kasey’s keynote speech can be viewed here.