Health region responds to racism survey

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The majority of First Nations people have experienced racism in Manitoba’s health-care system, according to the results of a survey issued by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/03/2021 (507 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The majority of First Nations people have experienced racism in Manitoba’s health-care system, according to the results of a survey issued by the Southern Chiefs’ Organization.

The organization released the report Friday in advance of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination the following day.

In the survey, 72 per cent of respondents reported experiencing instances of racism when accessing services and programs in the Manitoba health-care system, and almost 80 per cent of respondents reported witnessing a family member or loved one being discriminated against or treated badly due to their race.

Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a news release that he was “appalled” with the findings in a report issued on survey findings on experienced racism in Manitoba’s health-care system. (File)

Of respondents, 92 per cent either strongly agreed or agreed with the statement: “Racism is a problem in Manitoba’s health-care system,” while almost 65 per cent strongly agreed or agreed that their health has been impacted because of racism.

“I am appalled by the findings in this report,” Southern Chiefs’ Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels said in a release. “While none of it is shocking to First Nations people, it is heartbreaking to read so many traumatic experiences that our people have had to endure at the hand of Manitoba’s health-care system.”

Prairie Mountain Health’s response to The Brandon Sun’s request for an interview last week was met by written statements, which has been their lone means of speaking on the record in recent months.

The initial written statement issued Friday failed to address the question posed: “What is being done to address the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action?”

In it, they urged patients and loved ones to share their concerns with their patient relations department.

Their second written statement issued Monday after further pressing listed the steps they have taken to address the Calls to Action.

Attributable to CEO Penny Gilson, the statement opened by clarifying the health region “takes any complaint or concern regarding racism very seriously and follows up on any received.”

The steps Gilson reported the health region to have taken include:

• Implementing “Services to Services” meetings with health region staff and health centre staff at First Nations to problem solve any issues or barriers community members might experience.

• Hiring two full-time Indigenous co-ordinators who liaise with Indigenous people to help them navigate the health-care system.

• Having the Indigenous co-ordinators create an Indigenous Cultural Awareness training module, which has been made available to all staff and made mandatory for people in certain areas. A second module on cultural sensitivity is being worked on.

• Having more than 60 staff members enrolled in the 10-hour Manitoba Indigenous Cultural Safety Training program.

• Recruiting an Indigenous health patient advocate at the Brandon Regional Health Centre to serve as an Indigenous advocate.

• Joining the Tipi Tour Legacy project, which installed a permanent teepee on the grounds of the Brandon Regional Health Centre.

• Prioritizing several First Nations communities for services provided by the mobile primary care clinic.

• Adopting a Facilitation of Smudging Ceremonies policy.

• Maintaining an Indigenous human resources team dedicated to increasing the number of Indigenous people applying for employment.

Gilson closed the written statement by noting there is “always more that can be done to improve how we offer services and to build stronger relationships with our Indigenous communities.”

“We will continue to work directly with leadership and community members to ensure we can provide services that will meet their needs.”

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization survey consisted of nine closed-ended and two open-ended questions and was shared online between Dec. 1, 2020, and Jan. 11, 2021. The organization reports receiving 397 qualified responses from First Nations people from 34 First Nation communities.

Waywayseecappo First Nation Chief Murray Clearsky declined to comment on the survey results until such time as he has met with the Southern Chiefs’ Organization. Brandon Friendship Centre chair Jason Gobeil and Sioux Valley Dakota Nation Chief Jennifer Bone did not return the Sun’s requests for comment.

» tclarke@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @TylerClarkeMB

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