The Southern Chiefs’ Organization, a vocal advocate for equitable access to health care for First Nations, welcomed an Aug. 17 decision from the Manitoba Human Rights Commission that will see the province pay an Anishinaabe family $42,500 in damages over its failure to provide health services.
"All First Nation peoples have the inalienable human right to equitable access to health care. This case is one example of how First Nation peoples face systemic discrimination throughout the health care system. Thankfully, the Manitoba Human Rights Commission has recognized this discrimination faced by First Nation peoples in their decision this week," Grand Chief Jerry Daniels stated in a news release.
The complainants, Harriet Sumner-Pruden and her son, Alfred (Dewey) Pruden, of Pinaymootang First Nation, filed a complaint in 2010 outlining how Dewey’s health-care needs were denied, delayed, or intermittent, according to the organization. Dewey was born with a progressive neurological disorder called Sturge-Weber syndrome and developed several other health problems. The Province of Manitoba maintained that the federal government was responsible for providing health care to First Nations communities.
"As this case has shown, equitable access and culturally appropriate health care for elders, youth, families, and communities is central to wellness and the success of our communities and the Anishinaabe and Dakota peoples of southern Manitoba," stated Daniels.
"We must continue to take steps to gain more autonomy in our health governance and to exercise our treaty and inherent right to health in the way our ancestors intended."
The Southern Chiefs’ Organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the federal government in June with the intent that member First Nations will assume greater control of their health and wellness. The understanding outlines the values and principles of equitable and culturally appropriate health care for the 34 First Nations and promises a working relationship between them and the federal government.
» The Brandon Sun