B.C. health authorities accept report on Indigenous-specific racism, discrimination in health system

“We want to reinforce that racism has no place in our facilities, programs and services, or our society”

B.C. health authorities on Tuesday accepted independent reviewer Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond’s report – In Plain Sight: Addressing Indigenous-specific Racism and Discrimination in B.C. Health Care.

In a joint statement, the board chairs, and presidents and CEOs of Fraser Health, Interior Health, Island Health, Northern Health, Providence Health Care, Provincial Health Services, and Vancouver Coastal Health said: “On behalf of our organizations, we accept the report’s findings on Indigenous-specific racism and discrimination in B.C.’s health system. In partnership with the Ministry of Health, we commit to implementing all recommendations within our responsibility to lead, and further commit to partner and support implementation of all others. We will undertake this work together with, and be guided by, Indigenous health and community leaders. 

“The report’s first finding bears repeating – Widespread Indigenous-specific stereotyping, racism and discrimination exist in the B.C. health-care system. To the generations of Indigenous peoples who have lived these experiences, and those who continue to face harm, we apologize for our actions and our inaction in righting wrongs. To health authority Indigenous employees and physicians, we apologize to you as well for the impacts you have experienced.

“We want to reinforce that racism has no place in our facilities, programs and services, or our society.

“We have tremendous appreciation for reviewer Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (Aki-Kwe) and her team for their work, and the almost 9,000 indigenous peoples and health-care workers whose courage to share their stories and experiences help shape this critically important report and blueprint for change.

“Te’ta-in (Sound of Thunder) Shane Pointe – the Knowledge Keeper for this important report – has called upon all involved in B.C. health care to “bring dignity to those who have not been afforded it”.

“The absolute clarity of these words and what the words mean to those who receive care in our facilities, and through our programs and services, describe the work in front of us.  As leaders in health-care service delivery, and as collaborative partners in creating a healthy society for all we have the privilege to serve, this is our responsibility and our accountability to you.”