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Previewing Indigenous Health Issues

Tansi Nîtôtemtik,

This week Team ReconciliACTION YEG is introducing topics that we plan to bring you during the term. Not only do we have a new perspective on the team, with the addition of Hero Laird, but we are also inviting you to add another r new element: your comments and questions!

What do you want us to tackle for each of our remaining themes: justice, health, and culture? Yesterday, we introduced the topic of justice, and we will watch for your comments and questions to inform our justice discussions for the rest of January.

Today, we are introducing you to February's theme: health. The inclusion of health within the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s (TRC) Calls to Action has largely been ignored by the provincial and federal governments since the TRC was released.[1] In December 2021, Eva Jewell and Ian Mosby of The Yellowhead Institute published a document titled “Calls to Action Accountability: A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation, A Special Report”.[2] This report shines a bright light on the provincial and federal government’s failure to enact any of the TRC’s Calls to Action regarding health issues for Indigenous peoples.

What message does this send to Indigenous communities? The age old saying that “actions speak louder than words” is certainly true here. The government’s inaction to implement meaningful change in health services, for Indigenous peoples, sends a clear message that the government does not prioritize health services for Indigenous peoples.

Health issues touch on so much. So, what subjects within the area of health you would like to learn more about? We could talk about health policy and delivery models like the Health Transfer Policy, how “integrated” models of healthcare are working (or not working) within Indigenous communities, or how self-government is playing a role in providing equitable access to Indigenous-based health care.

We could talk about mistreated Indigenous individuals like Joyce Eschquan (who died in hospital after healthcare staff were recorded saying abusive comments just hours before she passed away)[3], systemic racism within the healthcare system, and what (if anything) is being done to address this?

Health also involves clean drinking water. It involves the differences in treating an Indigenous versus non-Indigenous patient. And what about addictions or suicide prevention? What about the delivery of medical services to remote communities, for example the issues facing pregnant Indigenous women in those communities? Health issues affect our lives in so many ways.

It is also notable that Covid-19 has disproportionately affected Indigenous communities, and while Covid-19 takes up much of our time these days, if you would like to hear about this, we welcome these questions as well!

As you can see, the areas that we can address are as wide open as the prairies! Therefore, we are asking you dear readers, to help us narrow the areas in which you would like to read about. Please comment below with your thoughts and feedback.

Until next time,

Team ReconciliACTION YEG

[1] Eva Jewell & Ian Mosby, “Calls to Action Accountability: A 2021 Status Update on Reconciliation A SPECIAL REPORT” (December 2021) online (pdf): Yellowhead Institute <trc-2021-accountability-update-yellowhead-institute-special-report.pdf>.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Julia Page, “Joyce Echaquan died of pulmonary edema, could have been saved, inquiry hears” (May 27, 2021) online: CBC News <>.

[4] The image from the report 'Empathy, dignity, and respect: Creating cultural safety for Aboriginal people in urban health care' released by the Health Council of Canada on Dec. 11, 2012 (Health Council of Canada).

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