Dr. Dawg

Racism in NWT health system claims a life

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Papik.jpgOne might have thought that Canadian health administrations would have learned something from the horrific death by neglect of Brian Sinclair in 2008. He had a treatable bladder infection, but was left for 34 hours to die in a Winnipeg emergency room due to racist assumptions by the nursing staff.

But lessons, when it comes to First Nations and Inuit, just don’t seem to sink in. Racism has just claimed another victim, this time in the Northwest Territories, under remarkably similar circumstances. This time, it was an Inuk man with a stroke, Hugh Papik, but he was seen as just another drunken Native by nursing staff at the Aklavik Health Centre, and was ignored to the point of brain death.

The Winnipeg case shocked the nation—for a while. But in the NWT, authorities are trying to brazen it out:

A spokesperson for the nurses’ employer, the N.W.T. Department of Health and Social Services, says it has already reviewed the incident, and won’t be taking any further steps.

“The CEO of the N.W.T. Health and Social Services Authority has reviewed the matter and she is confident that appropriate clinical practices were followed,” spokesperson Damien Healy wrote in an email to CBC.

“There is no further follow-up review being considered.

Just another aboriginal death. Not even worth a review. Then this:

“We can assure you that we take these concerns seriously,” Healy said.

He may as well have spat in the family’s face.

Truth and Reconciliation? Dream on. Racism is still killing people, whether by direct action or neglect. Perhaps a good place to start the repair-job Canada so sorely needs would be to purge it from our public institutions. But judging from the official couldn’t-care-less reaction to one more needless death, this time in a part of Canada where indigenous people actually outnumber whites, there is little reason to feel optimistic.

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on August 15, 2016 10:20 AM.

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