Last week I heard an interview on CBC radio with a loved one of the late Joyce Echequan. It was so deeply heartbreaking I couldn’t find words for the sadness. I tried to imagine what it would be like to have that happen to my own sister but I couldn’t.
How many more land acknowledgements and apologies will it take before this stops? It’s been 12 years since Brian Sinclair was ignored to death in a Winnipeg hospital. Joyce and Brian are two names we’ve heard in the media, two stories that got heard but there are countless others that go undocumented and unacknowledged in the public eye. Discrimination against indigenous people in the healthcare system happens constantly. Canadians are quick to boast about our universal healthcare system but is it really so universal if not everyone is offered the same care? Every person deserves dignity. At all times but especially in the moments of vulnerability that cause us to seek care from health professionals.
But non-indigenous Canadians, we all know this already. We’ve been giving it lip service for years. This stuff is so complex, so intertwined with all the systems of existing that have been built here since European contact.I don’t know what to do. It can’t keep happening, it is not ok. If anyone has suggestions for tangible, practical ways to be an ally and advocate for those experiencing racism in healthcare I would welcome them.
In the meantime, I am sending out my deepest condolences for Joyce’s family. If you search her name on GoFundMe, there is a fundraiser for her family, for the seven children she left behind. In five years this story will be in the past and many of us will forget and move on but those kids will never have their mom back.