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It was 99 degrees in Bellingham a few weeks ago! That was unexpected, and yet not a total surprise. We’re learning a new language – mega-fires and giga-fires – based on the number of thousands of acres a wildfire has burned. All this while bearing the news of a disease variant that now encompasses more than half of new cases in the region for COVID-19.

We certainly hope that you are staying safe this summer, and can find spots to cool off when the weather is too warm. I heard that another heat dome might be headed our way, so prepare as best you can. 

I was honored and humbled to be invited to a special event at PeaceHealth hospital here in Bellingham on July 14 to honor the land upon which St. Joseph Medical Center sits. Partnering with Children of the Setting Sun Productions, PeaceHealth described a journey they embarked on about eight months ago to develop strong relationships with Indigenous communities through shared learning and land acknowledgement. 

From left: Michael Vendiola (Swinomish), Swinomish Tribe Education Director; Michaela Vendiola (Walker River Paiute and Swinomish), North Sound ACH Tribal and Community Liaison; Beth Boyd (Blackfeet and Sioux), Peacehealth Cancer Center Medical Social Worker/Care Manager; Dr. William Lombard, retired from PeaceHealth; Rachel Lucy, Peacehealth Director of Community Health; Lona Johnson (Nooksack), Nooksack Tribe Health Department Director; Candice Wilson (Lummi), Lhaq’temish Foundation Executive Director; Darrell Hillaire (Lummi), Children of the Setting Sun Productions Executive Director.
From left: Lona Johnson (Nooksack), Health Department Director – Nooksack Tribe; Michaela Vendiola (Walker River Paiute and Swinomish), Tribal and Community Liaison – North Sound ACH; Barbara Juarez (Lummi), Executive Director – Northwest Washington Indian Health Board; Liz Baxter, Executive Director – North Sound ACH; Candice Wilson (Lummi), Executive Director – Lhaq’temish Foundation.

The program was held outside on a beautiful, breezy day, under tall cedar trees. It also marked the first time I have been together with others outside of my family. It was a reminder of how much being together with others touches our souls and nourishes our spirits. A land acknowledgement statement is but one step on a long journey, and we hope that you and your organizations will step with us as we deepen relationships with tribal partners whose ancestors have inhabited this land since time immemorial.