A B.C. First Nations Tribal Council wants the creation of a task force to improve health care for Indigenous people in northern British Columbia.
“I was overwhelmed with sadness that these types of treatment of Indigenous people continues today,” Carrier Sekani Tribal Council (CSTC) Chief Mina Holmes said of video showing a dying Indigenous woman being taunted by health care workers at a Quebec hospital.
“I was absolutely horrified and I think that is the general response to the video and story of Joyce and what happened to her.”
A Hamilton task force addressing racism was established nearly three weeks after nationwide outrage ensued following the death of Joyce Echaquan.
In an Oct. 21 open letter to Canada’s Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Carolyn Bennett, CSTC said Indigenous people living on and reserve in northern B.C. constantly face the same kind of racism and cruelty as has Echaquan.
“I feel that people of color, visible minorities, such as First Nations people, in particular are significantly over-represented in the discrimination in the health care system as well as other systems,” Holmes said.
Pointing to the Lejac (Fraser Lake) Residential School that operated from 1922 to 1976, Holmes said many generations had attended the facility in which many medical nightmares and unethical practices took place as well at the nearby hospital.
While an independent investigation by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond will release its findings into allegations of racism in B.C’s health care system before the end of this year, Holmes maintains an Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. cannot wait.
“These recommendations will also take time, and we’re not sure how enforceable they will be.”
Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada declined comment.