Feds invest in IPAC’s campaign against racism in in health care

·2 min read

The federal government moved to support a project that hopes to ensure a health-care environment free of racism or discrimination for Indigenous people when they seek care in Canada, an association of Indigenous medical professionals announced last week.

The federal government’s Indigenous Services Canada department invested more than $150,000 in the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada’s (IPAC) efforts to work toward safer health systems.

The project’s goal is to ensure Indigenous people in Canada have access to health services without fear of discrimination or racism, like that experienced by Atikamekw woman Joyce Echaquan, who died in a Joliette hospital in September 2020 after experiencing racist taunts as she lay moaning in pain on a gurney and broadcast the experience live on her Facebook page.

The physician director of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada said ensuring the safety and well-being of Indigenous people in Canada’s hospitals is deeply personal for his group.

“As Indigenous physicians, working for safer health systems for Indigenous people is deeply personal work,” said Dr. Michael Dumont. “Our own families and communities are directly impacted by the racism that continues to infect our healthcare systems. While the stories of Joyce Echaquan, Brian Sinclair - and many others – fill us with anger and grief, we also feel empowered by the groundswell of allies and partners that have rallied around the call to anti-racism.”

Federal Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu said she was glad to support a project that made health care more inclusive for all who use it.

“The type of work and advocacy that the Indigenous Physician’s Association of Canada is doing is so important in making Canada’s health systems safe and accessible to all Indigenous Peoples,” she said. “It is with the help of organizations like IPAC that we can create a more inclusive and safe society.”

Marc Lalonde, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Iori:wase

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