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Self-identify as Indigenous

The Workers’ Compensation Appeal Tribunal (WCAT) processes appeals about WorkSafeBC decisions. WCAT serves all communities in B.C. Our office is located on the traditional, ancestral and unceded territory of the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ speaking Musqueam people, and our work spans the traditional territories of 198 First Nations and 38 Métis chartered communities across B.C. We honour all our hosts and their welcome and graciousness toward our work and the people we serve.

WCAT welcomes Indigenous Peoples and tries to provide a respectful service that reflects an understanding of differences in culture and history.

Anyone participating in an appeal can let WCAT know they have Indigenous heritage or background. This includes Inuit, Metis, non-status, status, and anyone with First Nations ancestry. Proof of ancestry or status is not required.

You can self-identify on your appeal form. Look for the question: Are you an Indigenous person? Feel free to add a word or phrase that you feel accurately describes your personal identity. You can also complete this step by contacting WCAT.

If you self-identify as Indigenous, you can work with an experienced WCAT team member called a Navigator. It’s up to you whether you’d like this option.

How self-identification information is used

We’re grateful to all who choose to self-identify. This information helps us continue making improvements to the appeal process. For example, it helps WCAT:

  • Plan and deliver services that are culturally-relevant for Indigenous employers and workers
  • Report on our progress in response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
  • Identify other opportunities for support

Indigenous self-identification information remains private and is stored in WCAT’s secure client information system. It’s protected under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

In the spirit of reconciliation, WCAT is committed to offering services that are respectful of Indigenous culture and heritage. As part of this, the WCAT team includes Navigators – staff members who have an in-depth knowledge of processing of appeals as well as training from Indigenous Peoples about their relationship with government, the justice system and society. They are available to:

  • Work with Indigenous parties to build a relationship of trust that’s culturally appropriate
  • Offer assistance throughout the entire appeal process – making sure that cultural sensitivities are respected
  • Use a culturally relevant approach to remove barriers and make sure that Indigenous parties have full and fair access to justice

Ask to work with a Navigator anytime during the appeal process

Call 604 664-7800 or 1 800 663-2782 (toll-free in B.C.) to connect with our experienced team about using Indigenous culture and approach as part of your appeal process. If you do, you’ll get one-on-one assistance through each step of the process that’s tailored just for you.

You can call or email your Navigator. Feel free to ask questions or raise concerns, even if they’re not directly related to your appeal.

They will also help you send written materials to WCAT or arrange an oral hearing. In some cases, they will come to the oral the hearing.

They can explain things about the appeal process. For example:

  • What WCAT can or cannot do for you
  • How appeals progress to an ultimate decision
  • The difference between doing an appeal through written submission or oral hearing
  • The type of evidence that’s typically used for appeals and how to get it (they won’t tell you what evidence you should get to win your appeal)
  • The role of the vice chair, the person who will hear your appeal and make the final decision
  • What steps you can take after you receive your decision

They can talk with you about access to information in the WorkSafeBC file. Everyone participating in an appeal is given access to all the information in the WorkSafeBC file, including documents, medical reports, phone conversations, medical records, etc. This is called disclosure. Your Navigator can talk to you about who will have access and how you can access the large file online. For example, they can find somewhere for you to access the file from a computer, or they have a paper copy of the file sent to you.

They’ll help you prepare for an oral hearing and explain what to expect. For example, they will:

  • Discuss the different options for having a hearing – in person, over the phone or by computer
  • Find a location that’s suitable for meeting in-person or somewhere for you to use the phone or a computer
  • Note cultural processes you’d like to include at the hearing (e.g., activities for an opening ceremony) and present them to the vice chair for consideration

They’ll work with you to address things that might interfere with your appeal. They’ll help find solutions to anything that might be a barrier to completing your appeal. They’ll also do their best to offer information and reminders or connect you with others who can also help.

They cannot give legal advice. They can only provide information about the appeal process and help you understand your role and the things you need to do.

They cannot act as your representative. A representative is someone you authorize to represent you or participate on your behalf. Representatives offer advice and help you explain your side of the appeal. They can be a family member, friend, lawyer, compensation consultant, someone from a union or employers’ association, or an advisor from the from the Employers’ Advisers Office or the Workers’ Advisers Office.

If you don’t have a representative and you would like to have one, your Navigator can refer you to organizations who might be able to help.

WCAT’s commitment to reconciliation

As part of our efforts towards reconciliation, WCAT actively participates in the Calls to Action (PDF, 299KB) from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Specifically, we are focused on items 27 and 57 related to cultural competency and intercultural skills-based training as well as education about the history of Aboriginal Peoples, the history and legacy of residential schools, and Indigenous law.

WCAT’s commitment to reconciliation led to forming a Community Advisory Council with members of the Indigenous legal community who have extensive knowledge of the circumstances and needs of B.C.’s Indigenous communities. Their task was to review WCAT processes and make recommendations that align with the Calls to Action.

WCAT accepted all recommendations made by the council. Our work continues to put all of the recommendations in place – some highlights include:

A new Navigator role. A Navigator is an experienced WCAT staff member. They provide information to parties who self-identify as Indigenous. For example, they explain the appeal process and how to prepare.

Updated forms. Appellants or respondents can indicate that they are Indigenous on an appeal form. Forms are also available electronically so that they can be completed online using computer or mobile device.

Adjusted appeal process. A unique appeal process that takes into consideration each person’s individual situation and needs and resolving accessibility issues so that they can participate fully in the appeal process. In some cases a pre-hearing conference is used for the Navigator and vice chair to work with parties to assess their individual needs and make a plan to proceed.

Oral hearings that are more welcoming. WCAT is open to consider alternate methods or locations that are most suitable for each person. For hearings held by video or teleconference, assistance is available to make sure that parties have access to a computer or phone. Also, an oral hearing room at WCAT’s Richmond office was renovated to make it a more welcoming space.

A new website that’s accessible. The refreshed WCAT website uses an inclusive approach to content and design. It’s now easier to find and understand information about the appeal process or how to get help.

Ongoing training and education. WCAT vice chairs and administrative staff receive ongoing cultural competency and skills-based training. There is also increased access to voluntary training and education opportunities.