Your head is in the sand if you believe Canada is free from racism, according to the Regional Chief of the BC Assembly of First Nations.
Terry Teegee told Black Press Media in an interview Friday (June 19) that he was disgusted, angered and surprised when Health Minister Adrian Dix announced earlier that day an investigation into allegations of emergency room staff “playing a game to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients,” and possibly others.
“If you’re questioning that there isn’t racism in Canada here is a perfect example,” Teegee said. “I think there is no question that there’s an issue here in this country that racism is alive and well and exists.”
Those emotions Teegee felt have lingered for the past few months following high-profile reports of Indigenous, Black and people of colour being killed or injured during police altercations – both on home soil and across the border.
He said he believes such incidents like the alleged Price is Right emergency room game continue because society allows it.
“I think right now as we see the voices of minorities come up as a result of George Floyd and a number of other incidents in the last year, people are fed up and are saying enough is enough.”
Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s former child and youth watchdog, has been appointed by Dix to investigate the allegations.
The First Nations Leadership Council and First Nations Health Council said the probe must be transparent and seek to “uncover the extensiveness of this abhorrent behavior.”
“We fully expect that those who committed these serious breaches of trust will be held accountable for their actions and, pending the outcomes of the investigation, have their medical licenses revoked for compromising the dignity, care and lives of Indigenous patients,” the leadership council said in a statement.
Dix and Premier John Horgan have both expressed outrage regarding the alleged racist incidents.
In a joint statement, heads of the five health authorities in the province pledged to remove racism from B.C.’s health care system, noting there is still much work to do.
“We remain actively engaged with Indigenous partners on immediate and longer-term action plans to combat anti-Indigenous racism. Together, we will make changes to ensure the health care system in B.C. is safe and equitable for all.”
– with files from Ashley Wadhwani, Black Press Media