New BC task team moves to confront systemic Indigenous racism in healthcare

Sep 29 2021, 10:06 pm

As BC is set to recognize its first-ever National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a new task team will work towards dismantling systemic racism in our healthcare system by focusing on education.

BC’s new In Plain Sight Task Team is made of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous experts appointed by the Ministry of Health and in consultation with Indigenous health system partners.

They have expert experience in both BC’s healthcare system and in addressing Indigenous-specific racism. Their goal is to help create better health outcomes for Indigenous people.

“We acknowledge that the harm to Indigenous people by our health system is known and has been perpetuated against Indigenous people for generations,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. 

“The task team will support the Province as we fulfil our commitment to make the real, meaningful changes needed to ensure we address systemic racism in the healthcare system and root out its toxic effects on people and communities.”

Paulette Flamond, Métis Nation British Columbia Minister of Health and task team member, said that “addressing racism and discrimination in BC’s healthcare system starts with education and ensuring British Columbians providing care have the knowledge they need to ensure that First Nations, Métis and Inuit people experience care in a way that they determine is accessible, welcoming and culturally safe.”

The task team will help respond to Recommendation 24 in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 Calls to Action. This recommendation called on medical and nursing schools in Canada to require everyone to take a course on Aboriginal health and to receive skills-based anti-racism training.

In BC, racism has been contributing to Indigenous peoples being disproportionately affected by BC’s two public health emergencies: COVID-19 and the overdose crisis.

“Racism has been able to hide…[but it] affects the health outcomes of many of our families,” said Chief Don Tom-Tsartlip First Nations, Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) vice president and task team member.

“We have incredible work we need to do, to tackle and dismantle hierarchy, and bring our best selves to the table. I hope that 20 or 30 years from now, we can look back and say, ‘Do you remember there was a time when racism was affecting Indigenous peoples? And this is when it stopped.'”

The Indian Residential Schools Crisis Line (1-866-925-4419) is available 24 hours a day for those experiencing pain, distress, or trauma as a result of their residential school experience. More information can be found here.

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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