Press Release

NWAC President calls for the co-creation of an Indigenous led training program to address racism in Quebec’s health care system


" Health care is a human right. Receiving health care in a non-racist, non-discriminatory, culturally safe environment is a human right.” - NWAC President Carol McBride

Sept 27, 2022

GATINEAU, Que. – Carol McBride, President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has written to Quebec Health Minister Christian Dubé to express her concern with the province’s efforts to provide anti-racism training to health care workers following the 2020 death in a Quebec hospital of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman from Manawan.

According to a CBC news report posted on Monday, health professionals who took part in the training program put in place by the province concluded that it provided a superficial history lesson taught primarily from non-Indigenous perspectives, and a best-practices section that is rife with errors.

The report says the training includes no references to Joyce Echaquan; or the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission; the recommendations of the Viens Commission; and the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

“The systemic racism in health care was addressed in each of these documents, with prescriptions for change. Surely, that would be a starting point for any serious effort of reform,” wrote President McBride.

“Minister, health care is a human right. Receiving health care in a non-racist, non-discriminatory, culturally-safe environment is a human right,” she wrote. “When Indigenous people know they will be treated without respect from doctors, nurses, and other health care staff, they avoid seeking medical attention.”

President McBride urged the Minister to meet with Indigenous experts to co-create an Indigenous-led training program, and to employ other measures recommended by key reports for ending discrimination in the health care system in his province.

“The racist treatment suffered by Joyce Echaquan, which continues to be experienced by countless other First Nations and Métis people and the Inuit, is atrocious,” wrote President McBride. “But it can be stopped if we have the will to take collective and decisive action.”

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