Health (18-24): Current Problems

QC


May 12, 2020


COVID-19

“Colonialism of the Curve: Indigenous Communities and Bad Covid Data”.

Yellowhead Institute – release of Policy Brief: “Colonialism of the Curve: Indigenous Communities and Bad Covid Data”.
There is wide discrepancy on COVID-19 related health data from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and provincial health authorities:

  • There is no agency or organization in Canada reliably recording and releasing Covid-19 data that indicates whether or not a person is Indigenous.
  • The division of powers between provincial and federal government has gradually displaced and disrupted Indigenous governance over time.
  • ISC only gathers on-reserve data which eliminates over 50% of the Indigenous population who live off-reserve
  • Canadian federalism was established to serve Canadians and consequently maintains discrimination and sub-standard service delivery in on-reserve communities.
  • This jurisdictional fight between provinces and the federal government, where both claim the other is responsible for services, more often than not leaves Indigenous people without any services.

Through publicly available data—media reports, Band Council updates to members, local reports and obituaries—a team of researchers supported by Yellowhead has compiled and verified many more cases.

  • ISC: COVID-19 cases = 175; Deaths = 2
  • Yellowhead: COVID-19 cases = 465; Deaths = 7

The same gaps in data collection exist in child welfare and were a primary reason why the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls were unable to definitively identify the number of Indigenous women who have been murdered or are missing. Publicly accessible data makes it easier for Indigenous people to seek accountability from leaders, and to independently evaluate and measure the efficacy of interventions by all levels of government, including our own Indigenous leadership. In fact, this is probably one of the reasons why we don’t have it.


September 29, 2020


Ongoing Health Crisis

Beyond Hunger – The Hidden Impacts of Food Insecurity in Canada”

Community Food Centres (CFC) – Release of “Beyond Hunger – The Hidden Impacts of Food Insecurity in Canada”. Even before COVID-19, food insecurity affected nearly 4.5 million Canadians. In the first two months of the pandemic, that number grew by 39 per cent. Food insecurity now affects one in seven people, disproportionately impacting low-income and Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) communities. “Beyond Hunger illustrates that food insecurity is about equity and income,” says Saul. “We urgently need a national solution that goes beyond emergency food assistance. We need a solution founded in solid policy that addresses inadequate social programs, systemic racism and precarious employment.”

Why Food Insecurity happens in Canada:

  • People are stuck in low wage and precarious jobs
  • Canadians are struggling with a rising cost of living
  • Colonialism and systemic racism
  • Low social assistance rates trap people in poverty
  • More and more people are living alone
  • Food in the North is unaffordable

Findings:

  • 81% say it takes a toll on their physical health
  • 79% say it impacts their mental health
  • 57% say it is harder to find and keep a good job
  • 53% say it is a barrier to finding meaning in life
  • 58% say it limits their ability to take part in social activities
  • 46% say it limits their ability to celebrate their culture

We believe government policy is necessary to address the real cause of food insecurity. Policy is what will increase incomes and make life more affordable — for everyone. Here are four policy changes for the federal government to act on:

  1. Invest in income supports for low income Canadians
    • Increase income benefits for single adults who suffer disproportionately from food insecurity by:
      • Ensuring low-wage workers have equal access to Employment Insurance
      • Improving existing tax benefits so they provide more income by making them refundable
      • Creating a tax credit specifically for working-age adults
    • Ensure low-income Canadians, especially First Nations living on reserve, have better access to tax filing supports and benefit services
  2. Make life more affordable for Canadians
    • Speed up the implementation of the Canada Housing Benefit, which supports people who can’t afford their housing
    • Increase federal funding for early learning and child care
    • Move forward with a universal public pharmacare program
  3. Set targets and improve reporting on food security
    • Set targets to reduce food insecurity
    • Ensure Statistics Canada reports on food insecurity annually and collects better race-based data
  4. Ensure progress on food insecurity is achieved equitably
    • In partnership with Northern leadership, continue to reform Nutrition North Canada
    • In partnership with Indigenous leadership, create an Indigenous food sovereignty fund
    • In partnership with Black communities, create a fund to decrease food insecurity for Black Canadians
    • Apply a racial equity lens to all poverty and food-security policies

https://cfccanada.ca/getmedia/57f5f963-af88-4a86-bda9-b98c21910b28/FINAL-BH-PDF-EN.aspx?_ga=2.197064812.159489303.1604624936-1692352870.1604624936


June 5, 2020


Health Care Reform

Bill 61 and COVID

Bill 61, an omnibus bill (An Act to stimulate the economy of Quebec and mitigate the consequences of the state of health emergency), declared on March 13, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and tabled earlier this week by the CAQ government cannot be misused by the Quebec government to minimize its duty to consult First Nations and reduce the application of already low environmental standards to a minimum. It cannot take advantage of the current context to put the health of our populations on the back burner, nor can it more openly infringe First Nations’ Aboriginal and treaty rights,” said AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.

There is an opportunity here for the provincial government to put its words into action and listen to First Nations who are looking for a balance between their own economic recovery and the protection of their territories. In any case, as we have decades of experience of being excluded from the decisions that affect our communities, we will continue to do what it takes to ensure that our governments have a voice when it comes to the development of our non-ceded territories and resources,” concluded the Chief of the AFNQL.


November 22, 2018


Systemic Racism

Call for national investigation into forced sterilizations

Senator Murray Sinclair, former Chair of the TRC, says Canada needs a national investigation to find out how common coerced sterilizations are among Indigenous women and how they’ve been allowed to continue for so long.
http://nationtalk.ca/story/usw-joint-statement-calling-on-canada-to-end-sterilization-without-consent


October 15, 2020


Health Care Reform

Canada Health Act fails Inuit

Pauktuutit Women of Canada – President Kudloo calls for additional funding to improve health determinants for Inuit women and girls and a focus on youth to increase Inuit health providers. She will also will highlight how the Canada Health Act is failing Inuit women and girls when she participates in a national meeting to address racism in the healthcare system on Oct. 16. Kudloo will also table recommendations to address racism experienced by Inuit women and children in the healthcare system. In addition, she will highlight the role systemic racism plays in health determinants for Inuit women which lead to poorer health outcomes, relative to other women in Canada.

“For Inuit women and girls, healthcare services fail most of the five basic principles of the Canada Health Act: accessibility, comprehensiveness, universality, portability, and public administration,” said Kudloo. “This is important because under the federal legislation, provincial and territorial health insurance programs must conform to the conditions of the legislation to receive federal transfer payments, under the Canada Health Transfer.” Systemic racism is also a key factor in many of the well‐known determinants of health, including employment, education, justice and income. Racism negatively impacts Inuit students’ success in graduating high school. It also limits their goals for post‐secondary education, including becoming a health professional. In addition, racism contributes to a lack of employment opportunities and the marginalization of Inuit in the workplace, including in well‐paying jobs in the healthcare system.

Recommendations

  • Increased funding to ensure the principles of the Canada Health Act ‐‐ including accessibility, comprehensiveness and universality ‐‐ are upheld for Inuit women and girls wherever they live, and that there are sufficient and sustainable health resources in each community.
  • Ensuring anti‐racism and cultural safety in education so Inuit children and youth receive STEM outreach programs; high school students receive counselling about the path to becoming a health professional; safe and respectful post‐secondary classrooms; as well as clinical settings that are free of racism and discrimination.
  • Training, recruiting, retaining, and mentoring Inuit staff and healthcare providers at all levels of the health system; as well as creating working and learning environments where Inuit knowledge, leadership and enterprise are valued.
  • Culturally aware and appropriate training to ensure all students training to work in healthcare, as well as present‐day healthcare staff, receive cultural awareness training regarding Inuit history and culture. Students and healthcare workers should also receive gender‐based violence training and those working in Inuit communities should receive Inuktut language training.
  • Inuit‐informed delivery of healthcare so that Elders, community leaders, women and youth are involved in the design and delivery of healthcare programs and services for their people and communities.

September 21, 2017


Health Care Reform

Canada Health Act flaws

Healthy Debates – “Indigenous health services often hampered by legislative confusion“. The federal and provincial governments negotiate health transfers based on the Canada Health Act, which specifies the conditions and criteria required of provincial health insurance programs. It doesn’t mention First Nations and Inuit peoples, Métis and non-status or off-reserve Indigenous peoples who are covered by the Indian Act.

This lack of clarity – and lack of policies for providing Indigenous health services – has historically been used by both the federal government and provinces to narrowly define their responsibilities toward Indigenous health. It’s created bureaucratic delays that leave Indigenous peoples waiting for care or medications readily available to non-Indigenous Canadians. And it’s created gaps in care between Indigenous and non-status and First Nations people living off-reserve.

“The move to a new fiscal relationship is significant,” Grand Chief Doug Kelly, chair of the First Nations Health Authority of BC says. Leaving Indigenous people out of health care discussions and program design hasn’t worked. Instead, he says, First Nations communities should be empowered to identify their priorities and develop a plan. Once costs are attached, communities would negotiate with the government for transfer payments. Groups like the First Nations Health Managers Association that Marion Crowe, Executive Director represents, have been working to prepare communities for the eventual transfer of responsibility, focusing on developing health human resource and health administrative capacity within First Nations communities.


November 2, 2020


Health Care Reform

Canada’s Constitution embeds discrimination

Policy Options – Canada’s history of colonization has laid the foundation for the implementation of racist health policy and the delivery of culturally unsafe health care, resulting in health disparities that are disproportionately experienced by Indigenous Peoples. Since the establishment of the Indian Act in 1867, Canada’s Constitution has continued to support and maintain discriminatory and inequitable practices and policies that negatively impact the health of Indigenous Peoples. The result is that Canada’s current health-care model is in and of itself a determinant of ill health for Indigenous Peoples. The authors recommend specific policy changes to address these issues:

  • Lack of availability and accessibility to culturally safe health care for Indigenous people in Canada
  • Canada’s long history of implementing racist and sexist policies oppress Indigenous Peoples and place them in inequitable spaces.
  • Indigenous women routinely experience systemic racism, institutional racism, a lack of cultural safety and sexism

Recommendations to make substantial changes to its health policies and legislations:

  • a collaborative approach that engages Indigenous Peoples and their communities in generating culturally safe and relevant health policies.
  • adequate distinctions-based programming and reporting mechanisms,
  • additional support of Indigenous-led research,
  • recruitment of Indigenous health-care personnel and
  • the integration of traditional healing practices in Canada’s health care model.
  • the creation of an ombudsman specific to Indigenous health should be established at the national, regional and local levels to ensure Indigenous Peoples feel safe to report inequities and experiences of mistreatment.

The TRC has advocated for cultural safety training and an increase in Indigenous health professionals in Canada’s health-care system, further supporting our health policy recommendations.Many of the health disparities experienced by Indigenous Peoples correlate to social, economic and political factors, suggesting that the foundation of Canada’s systems and thus its health care are inherently discriminatory.

https://policyoptions.irpp.org/magazines/november-2020/excising-racism-from-health-care-requires-indigenous-collaboration/


October 5, 2021


Systemic Racism

Coroners Report into death of Joyce Echaquan

APTN – The existence of systemic racism in the way Joyce Echaquan was treated in a Quebec hospital is undeniable, coroner Gehane Kamel said Tuesday, a few days after releasing her report on the Atikamekw mother’s controversial death. Kamel recommended the government recognize the existence of systemic racism and make a commitment to root it out of institutions.

“It is unacceptable that large sections of our society deny such a well-documented reality.” When asked if the mother of seven would still be alive if she were a white woman, Kamel replied: “I think so.” But despite the coroner’s recommendation, the Legault government has steadfastly denied systemic racism exists in the province. In a press melee held Tuesday – at the same time as the Echaquan family’s press conference – Legault doubled down on his denial of Quebec’s systemic issues. “Yes, there is some racism in Quebec – but less than many other places,” Legault told reporters. “The only place where I don’t agree is when we say that there’s a ‘system.’ Because for me, a system is coming from upstairs, coming from the top people – and I don’t see this in the health care system.”

One of her recommendatons to the Québec government was “to recognize the existence of systemic racism within our institutions and make a commitment to contribute to its elimination”.

Other Recommendations:

For the Quebec government

  • Recognize the existence of systemic racism within our institutions and make a commitment to contribute to its elimination.

For the regional health authority that governs the hospital in Joliette, Que., where Echaquan died

  • Ensure the effective integration of the Atikamekw liaison officer into the hospital, in particular by involving them with care teams.
  • Ensure notes in medical files reflect the reality of how patients are being cared for.
  • Review the nurses-to-orderlies ratio based on standards recognized at the provincial level in order to provide safe services to the population.
  • Maintain periodic training on the establishment’s code of ethics, restraint measures, the monitoring of patients following a fall, and record management.
  • Quickly set up training and activities for the inclusion of Indigenous culture that is coordinated with the community of Manawan.
  • Improve the nurse/nursing assistant model and ensure that each has a clear understanding of their roles.

For the College des medecins du Quebec, the province’s order of physicians

  • Review the quality of the medical care given by the doctor responsible for family medicine and by the medical resident in gastroenterology to Ms. Echaquan during her hospitalization in September 2020.
    For the Ordre des infirmieres et infirmiers du Quebec, the province’s nurses order
  • Examine the quality of care of nurses’ services provided to Ms. Echaquan during her hospitalization.
  • Review the integration practices of college-level nursing candidates in emergency departments across hospitals in the province.
  • Include in the school curriculum training on the care of Indigenous patients that takes into consideration the realities of Indigenous communities.
  • Establish with Indigenous communities a greater offer of internships for both nurses and medical residents.
    Quebec’s Human Rights Commission condemned the “systemic discrimination suffered by Indigenous Peoples, particularly in the health sector.” Echaquan’s death, president Philippe-André Tessier said in a statement, serves as a “tragic reminder of this reality and of the need for concerted and sustained action to address it.”

The Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation Council, Constant Awashish, called on the government to act swiftly and implement the recommendations put forward by the Viens commission.


February 26, 2021


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Montreal Gazette – Québec Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafrenière, Health Minister Christian Dubé and interim Lanaudière health authority director Caroline Barbir announced along with Atikamekw chief Paul-Émile Ottawa announced the following changes:

* the creation of a reconciliation committee
* the addition to the health authority’s management of a liaison officer responsible for relations with the Atikamekw community
* a commissioner to deal with complaints from Indigenous users concerning the quality of services received at the institution. Both posts will be filled by members of the community
* a seat on the health authority’s board of directors will be reserved for an Indigenous candidate
* all health authority employees will be obliged to complete a training course, the content of which will be approved by the Atikamekw community

Finally, Dubé said the changes announced for the Lanaudière region’s health authority could serve as a model for reforms he intends to carry out throughout all of the health care network, with modifications for certain regions.


February 11, 2021


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Indigenous Services Canada – Minister of Indigenous Services, the Honourable Marc Miller, highlighted funding of $2 million to the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw and the Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan, Joyce’s community, to advance their work and advocacy for the implementation of Joyce’s Principle. With this funding, the Atikamekw, including the community members of Manawan, will be able to develop tools and training, promote Joyce’s Principle to healthcare professionals, and educate First Nations on their rights when using the healthcare systems. These funds will also be used to organize meetings with non-Indigenous Peoples on fighting racism.


December 15, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Release of “Racism in Québec: ZERO TOLERANCE. Report of the Groupe d’action contre le racism” by the Québec government that had no Indigenous representation. The Atikamekw nation says the 25 recommendations to counter racism raises more questions than answers. “Concrete proposals were offered in the brief for Joyce’s Principle to achieve changes with an impact on all health and social services. However, these do not seem to have been taken into account in the recommendations offered. We hope that the awakening linked to Joyce’s death will lead to some groundwork.”

Recommendations specific to Indigenous People (14-25)

14. Include in the national anti-racism awareness campaign a specific component on the realities of Indigenous peoples, to continually inform the public about the racism and discrimination experienced by First Nations and Inuit people.
15. Make the professional orders aware of the importance of training their members on Indigenous realities.
16. Make the history and current realities of Indigenous people in Québec a mandatory part of initial teacher training programs.
17. Change the academic curriculum at the primary and secondary levels to update concepts related to the history, cultures, heritage and current realities of Indigenous peoples in Québec and Canada and their impact on society.
18. Introduce continual, mandatory training on Indigenous realities for government employees.
19. End the informal practice of prohibiting people from speaking Indigenous languages while receiving public services.
20. Make the ban on random police stops mandatory.
21. Add Indigenous social services workers to some police services to create mixed patrol teams.
22. Increase the resources of Indigenous community organizations that promote access to justice for First Nations and Inuit people.
23. Improve the capacity of the justice system to address the heritage and life trajectory of Indigenous offenders by granting more resources for the use of the Gladue principle specific to First Nations and Inuit people.
24. Improve the quality and availability of interpretation services in Indigenous languages for better access to justice.
25. Increase resources allocated to off-reserve housing.
https://cdn-contenu.quebec.ca/cdn-contenu/politiques_orientations/Groupe_action_racisme/RA_GroupeActionContreRacisme_AN_MAJ.pdf?1608750405


November 10, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Québec Government – is investing $3.1M in Joliette “to enable the relocation and enlargement of the Centre d’amitié autochtone de Lanaudière (CAAL), an Indigenous community organization founded in 2001. Its mission is to improve the living conditions of Indigenous people living in or passing through the Joliette region by providing a number of support services, assistance and information through programs specially designed for Indigenous families.” The Centre will provide:

  • Consultation offices and a community room and kitchen;
  • Spaces to promote Indigenous history, arts and cultures;
  • Spaces for social economy activities;
  • Spaces that can be shared with partners;
  • Rooms dedicated to the CAAL’s Mirerimowin clinic;
  • A residential annex
  • An early childhood centre (CPE), a child-minding service and a playroom;
  • Administrative offices

November 6, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

The Québec government will invest $15 million to implement targeted actions to enhance cultural safety for members of First Nations and Inuit in the health and social services sector. This announcement follows several calls to action by the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec.


October 16, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Emergency meeting on racism in Canada’s healthcare system. AFN recommendations to all levels of government:

  • Work directly with First Nations to ensure that Indigenous Peoples feel safe accessing health care services.
  • Quebec needs to work with First Nations to fully implement the Viens Commission Report’s recommendations.
  • Canada must conduct an immediate review of the Canada Health Transfers and the Canada Health Act, to ensure quality health care is being provided to Indigenous Peoples.
  • The federal, provincial, and territorial governments must listen to Indigenous Peoples on the need for a healthcare Ombudsperson.
  • The Provinces and Territories must work with educational institutions to ensure a more expansive curriculum for all health

October 2, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Québec government announced the launch of a public inquiry under the coroner’s office.


September 30, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan

Montreal Gazette – “In her last moments, while tied to a hospital bed, Joyce Echaquan, a 37 year-old Atikamekw woman, pleaded for someone to help her. Instead, a video she recorded shows she received disparaging and condescending remarks — at a time when Québec continues to grapple with the larger question of systemic racism.” The Québec coroner’s office is investigating the death that Premier François Legault insists is not reflective of systemic racism within the Québec Health system despite that conclusion being found by the Viens Commission from one year ago.

“One professor told the commission the situation is so dire many Indigenous people will avoid going to the hospital over fears of being discriminated against. For those who have to go, they mentally prepare themselves first for the treatment they’ll be subjected to…Echaquan had grown so wary of hospital staff that she would often record Facebook live videos from her bed, her cousin said”.

Québec’s Human Rights Commission condemned the “systemic discrimination suffered by Indigenous Peoples, particularly in the health sector.” Echaquan’s death, president Philippe-André Tessier said in a statement, serves as a “tragic reminder of this reality and of the need for concerted and sustained action to address it.” The Grand Chief of the Atikamekw Nation Council, Constant Awashish, called on the government to act swiftly and implement the recommendations put forward by the Viens commission.


November 16, 2020


Systemic Racism

Death of Joyce Echaquan – Joyce’s Principle

The Council of the Atikamekw of Manawan (CDAM) and the Council of the Atikamekw Nation (CAN) –  have submitted a brief for “Joyce’s Principle” to Francis Legault, the Premier of Québec and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Québec Government has rejected adopting Joyce’s Principle “a call to action and commitment to governments to facilitate the transition towards health and social services systems that are safer and free from discrimination for Indigenous people across Québec and Canada.

Joyce’s Principle makes specific reference to Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples:

  • Indigenous peoples have the right to their traditional medicines and to maintain their health practices, including the conservation of their vital medicinal plants, animals and minerals. Indigenous individuals also have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services.
  • Indigenous individuals have an equal right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. States shall take the necessary steps with a view to achieving progressively the full realization of this right.

On Nov. 24, 2020 the Québec National Assembly refused to adopt Joyce’s Principle due its explicit reference to systemic racism within Québec.
https://principedejoyce.com/sn_uploads/principe/Joyce_s_Principle_brief___Eng.pdf


January 28, 2021


Systemic Racism

Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Health

Assembly of First Nations – AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde reiterated recommendations and called for urgency in addressing systemic racism in Canada’s health care systems at a two-day virtual meeting with federal, provincial and territorial ministers and Metis and Inuit leaders that ended today. The meeting, convened by Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett and Health Minister Patty Hajdu, gathered Indigenous leaders and health system experts to discuss short and long-term strategies to eliminate anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s health care systems.

It is the second of its kind since the death of Joyce Echaquan in hospital September 2020. “There seems to be a shared sense of responsibility by all parties to addressing racism in the health care system, but until First Nations and Indigenous peoples are treated with the respect, quality of care and attention they deserve, meetings of this nature will not have the impact that’s required,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “Implementation of recommendations and reporting on their progress and outcomes will be essential


October 16, 2020


Systemic Racism

Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Health

Emergency meeting on racism in Canada’s healthcare system.

AFN recommendations to all levels of government:

  • Work directly with First Nations to ensure that Indigenous Peoples feel safe accessing health care services.
  • Quebec needs to work with First Nations to fully implement the Viens Commission Report’s recommendations.
  • Canada must conduct an immediate review of the Canada Health Transfers and the Canada Health Act, to ensure quality health care is being provided to Indigenous Peoples.
  • The federal, provincial, and territorial governments must listen to Indigenous Peoples on the need for a healthcare Ombudsperson.
  • The Provinces and Territories must work with educational institutions to ensure a more expansive curriculum for all health care providers

July 14, 2016


Ongoing Health Crisis

Fire protection on reserves

NationTalk – There is no national fire protection code that mandates fire safety standards or enforcement on reserves. All other jurisdictions in Canada including provinces, territories, and other federal jurisdictions (such as military bases, airports, and seaports) have established building and fire codes. The Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada (AFAC), NIFSC’s parent organization, supports the development of a national First Nations Fire Protection Act and is willing to work with First Nations leadership as a technical resource.

In the absence of legislation act or regulations, AFAC and the NIFSC are addressing identified gaps to improve fire safety in Indigenous communities by supporting them in creating fire safety standards, doing fire protection and response research, and establishing fire safety bylaws and building standards. Indigenous Peoples across Canada are over 5 times more likely to die in a fire compared to the rest of the population. That number increases to over 10 times for First Nations people living on reserve. Inuit are over 17 times more likely to die in a fire than non-Indigenous people. Rates among Métis were higher than non-Indigenous estimates (2.1), but these rates were not significantly different.

Fire-related injuries resulting in hospitalization are also disproportionate to Indigenous Peoples. First Nations people are over 4 times more likely, Métis are over 1.5 times more likely, and Inuit are over 5 times more likely than non-Indigenous people to be hospitalized due to fire-related injuries.

What has led to this situation?

Many social determinants contribute to the higher fire-related mortality among Indigenous Peoples. These include poverty, inadequate housing conditions, housing without smoke alarms, and more.

Core capital funding provided by Indigenous Services Canada (ISC), which includes funding for fire protection, is flexible. This means community leadership can use designated fire protection funds if the community has more immediate or pressing needs (e.g., a school needing repairs or social housing maintenance). Without a fire protection mandate or regulatory maintenance of fire protection standards for Indigenous communities, fire services and fire and life safety can be deprioritized or forgotten.
https://nationtalk.ca/story/new-study-shows-that-indigenous-peoples-across-canada-are-between-5-and-17-times-more-likely-to-die-in-a-fire-compared-to-the-rest-of-the-population

How the NIFC Project will help Indigenous Communities

  • Offer culturally sensitive and relevant fire and life safety training and education programs that are created for and delivered by Indigenous Peoples. These services are available to First Nations populations living on reserve, leadership, and individuals working or volunteering in emergency services.
  • Launched close to 80 programs and services that provide training and ongoing support to more than 600 First Nations communities in Canada. Programs include:
    • education, support, and training in the areas of community fire safety, community governance support, community infrastructure and engineering support, fire department management, fire investigation services, and fire department operations.
    • Training, education programs and services being offered by the NIFSC Project have not previously been available to First Nations communities, whereas they have been available in most other communities in Canada
  • improve fire-related mortality and morbidity amongst Indigenous Peoples is through more accurate data collection. The creation of the National Incident Reporting System (NIRS) will, over time, provide the data regarding fire incidents in Indigenous communities that has been missing.

October 21, 2020


Ongoing Health Crisis

Food Insecurity

The Narwhal – Human Rights Watch released “My fear is Losing Everything: Climate Crisis and First Nations’ Right to Food” in Canada. The report details how longer and more intense forest fire seasons, permafrost degradation, volatile weather patterns and increased levels of precipitation are all affecting wildlife habitat and, in turn, harvesting efforts. The report also outlines how there are more hunting and foraging risks due to warming temperatures. For instance, it’s harder — and sometimes impossible — to hunt caribou because the ice and permafrost they travel on isn’t stable enough for hunters.

“Climate change threatens to decimate these food systems, risking further serious consequences for livelihoods and health,” the report states. The report also found that climate change is driving up prices for less-nutritious, store-bought alternatives that need to be brought in from the south. This is in part due to the fact that roads constructed from snow and ice are becoming less reliable because of warmer winters, meaning food needs to be flown in, which is far more expensive. This compounds the risk of food poverty for First Nations people, the report states.

Canada gets a failing grade on mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the report. The country is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with per capita emissions upward of four times higher than the global average, the report states, noting that between 1990 and 2017, emissions increased by roughly 19 per cent, mainly due to mining and oil and gas production. Canada is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average; in the North, it’s even worse, with temperatures rising three times as quick.

The report also found that climate change is driving up prices for less-nutritious, store-bought alternatives that need to be brought in from the south. This is in part due to the fact that roads constructed from snow and ice are becoming less reliable because of warmer winters, meaning food needs to be flown in, which is far more expensive. This compounds the risk of food poverty for First Nations people, the report states.

Canada gets a failing grade on mitigating the effects of climate change, according to the report. The country is among the top 10 emitters of greenhouse gas emissions in the world, with per capita emissions upward of four times higher than the global average, the report states, noting that between 1990 and 2017, emissions increased by roughly 19 per cent, mainly due to mining and oil and gas production. Canada is warming roughly twice as fast as the global average; in the North, it’s even worse, with temperatures rising three times as quick.

Human Rights Watch lays out several recommendations for the federal government, including that:

  • Canada deem the right to food a basic human right
  • strengthen its climate change policies to reduce emissions
  • improve climate adaptation measures in First Nations and
  • support a transition toward renewable energy, including for First Nations, in the COVID-19 stimulus package

https://thenarwhal.ca/climate-change-indigenous-food-insecurity-report/


May 17, 2021


Systemic Racism

Forced sterilization in Québec

The Université du Québec en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (UQAT) and the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission (FNQLHSSC) – in collaboration with several partners gathered within a regional committee, call on everyone to participate in research on free and informed consent and imposed sterilization, including obstetric violence, among First Nations and Inuit women in Quebec. The research is launched jointly with the Council of Elected Women of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL), Quebec Native Women, the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association, the Regroupement des centres d’amitié autochtones du Québec, the Office of Senator Yvonne Boyer, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services as well as the Cree Board of Health and Social Services of James Bay. The regional committee invites First Nations and Inuit women to testify on a personal experience or that of a loved one.

This research is part of the work of the Canada Research Chair on Indigenous Women’s Issues at UQAT, led by Professor Suzy Basile. More specifically, this is the theme of the research of doctoral student in Indigenous Studies at UQAT, Patricia Bouchard. “This research takes place in a context where the Quebec government has chosen not to participate in the federal working group on forced sterilization of Indigenous women in Canada, underway since 2018, while we have come to the conclusion, in particular by the development of a literature review carried out by the Laboratoire de recherche Mikwatisiw of UQAT, that there is a glaring lack of relevant data on this topic in Quebec. In light of these facts, it seemed essential to us to compile a portrait of the situation in order to better understand it and measure its impacts,” says Professor Basile. This research therefore aims to document this phenomenon and the circumstances in which these medical procedures might have been performed in order to identify certain trends, if any. It will also be an opportunity to give a voice to First Nations and Inuit women who may have experienced obstetric violence by allowing them to share their experience and traumas.

“Last year, the sad circumstances surrounding the death of Joyce Echaquan shed light on the acts of systemic discrimination experienced by First Nations and Inuit women in Quebec health institutions. In this sense, this research is of crucial importance; in addition to demonstrating the violence that our women, sisters and daughters might have suffered, it is a first step towards achieving healthier practices and quality services,” indicated Marjolaine Siouï, Executive Director of the FNQLHSSC.


December 10, 2018


Systemic Racism

Forced Sterilizations

72 organizations endorse the joint statement from Amnesty International Canada, the Native Women’s Association of Canada, and Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights, calling for government action to #DefendConsent and end #ForcedSterilization of Indigenous women in Canada

Canadian Press – All the women interviewed felt that the health system had not served their needs, and they had felt powerless to do anything about it. Aboriginal women who have had such an experience that prevents them from accessing health care are aware that they are higher risk for negative consequences of health problems that are preventable or treatable if diagnosed early; they still cannot get past their distrust. In its submission to the UN committee, the law firm said there has been no effort at a comprehensive review to understand the scale of the problem or the conditions that make forced sterilizations possible.


March 17, 2020


COVID-19

H1N1 and Systemic Racism

Globe and Mail – Despite accounting for just under 5 per cent of the Canadian population, Indigenous people were 25 per cent of those admitted to ICUs during the first wave of H1N1. First Nations children were 21 per cent of the paediatric patients admitted to ICUs during both waves. This led to sad and tragic outcomes. Indigenous peoples represented 17.6 per cent of the reported deaths in the first wave and 8.9 per cent of reported deaths in the second.These figures likely reflect the lack of timely interventions and diagnoses that plague communities who depend on understaffed nursing stations for their health-care needs, as well as jurisdictional squabbling about roles and responsibilities.

John Borrows is Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School writing with Constance MacIntosh, Viscount Bennett Professor of Law at Schulich School of Law at Dalhousie University


April 20, 2020


COVID-19

Incarcerated prisoners

First Nations leadership across BC is united in calling for immediate action to protect incarcerated peoples amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 outbreak at the Mission Institution is now the third largest outbreak in the Province of BC, with the first inmate tragically passing away on April 15, 2020. Senior health and corrections officials have verified that almost 40% of the confirmed cases of COVID-19 at Mission Institution are among Indigenous inmates despite Indigenous people making up just 5% of the population in BC.


June 9, 2021


Systemic Racism

Missing Indigenous Children

Montreal Gazette – The day after being appointed a special adviser to Québec on the issue of missing Indigenous children, Anne Panasuk said Wednesday she believes systemic racism exists in the province — in direct contrast to the ruling Coalition Avenir Québec’s insistence it does not. The consequences of not recognizing systemic racism are demonstrated by the fact Quebec does not have clear health care files on Indigenous communities, Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade said. Ms Panasuk will advise the government on Bill 79 “An Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution”.


September 7, 2021


Systemic Racism

Missing Indigenous children in Québec

Toronto Star – According to the most recent estimate of Awacak, a group which brings together bereaved families, at least 200 indigenous children have disappeared or died after being admitted to a hospital in Quebec. A number that makes sense, confirms the office of Ian Lafrenière, Quebec’s Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs. On Sept. 1, Bill 79 (An Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution) take effect. The bill allows personal information to be communicated to the families – and not only to the parents – of Indigenous children who have disappeared or died following admission to a Quebec health establishment. It gives access to medical archives and those of religious congregations.

The cases of Indigenous children who disappeared or died in the same circumstances as Line were documented in the supplementary report on Quebec of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) in the country in 2019. The story is almost always the same: an Indigenous child would get sick, they were sent outside the community to be treated in the nearest hospital, but never returned. And the parents were left without answers. Such cases have been reported in Quebec since the 1940s and until the late 1970s. Without commenting on any of the testimonies recounted during this report, Alain Arsenault, Awacak’s legal advisor. Arsenault affirms that in some of her files, “clues suggest” the same modus operandi as during the “’60s Scoop”, where children were taken from their families for adoption in Canada and the United States.

Bill 79 allows members of an Indigenous family to make an official request to the Family Support Team, active since Sept. 1. This team should assist families in their research. Bill 79 applies to health and social services establishments, religious organizations or congregations. It does not include residential schools, unless a resident has died after being admitted to hospital. The legislation covers the period before Dec. 31, 1992. A family can apply until September 2031. The law also gives the Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs the power to investigate in the event of a refusal to disclose “information likely to reveal the circumstances surrounding the disappearance or death of a child.” The Minister must submit an annual report no later than March 31 of each year.


April 29, 2022


Systemic Racism

Missing Indigenous Children: Initial Review of 55 missing children

Bill 79, An Act to authorize the communication of personal information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution

NationTalk: During a tribute held in the community of Pakuashipi in the Côte-Nord region to the courage of the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died,  Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs Ian Lafrenière noted the submission of the first annual report on the application of the “Act to authorize the communication of personal  information to the families of Indigenous children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution“. Accompanied by the members of the monitoring committee on the carrying out of the Act comprising representatives of Indigenous organizations and the Opposition parties, the Minister visited the community, which was the first to break the silence on the fate of its children, to symbolically submit the report to the bereaved families.

The Act came into force on September 1, 2021. It seeks to support Indigenous families in their quest to get answers concerning their children who went missing or died after being admitted to an institution prior to December 31, 1992. On February 28, 2022, six months after the Act came into force, the Minister revealed that 35 families had already approached the Direction de soutien aux familles, Anne Panasuk, the special family support advisor, or the Association des familles Awacak to formulate requests to search for 55 children. The government is determined to do all that it can to assist the families and those who follow them in their quest for the truth.

Through the legislation, the Québec government wishes to help the families and their communities shed light on the fate of their children. Everyone concerned hopes in this way to grasp the circumstances in which the children went missing or died, find out where they are, if they are still alive, or learn about their burial place.


November 19, 2020


COVID-19

Problems with Indigenous COVID-19 data

Toronto Star – COVID-19 is negatively impacting both on-reserve and off-reserve Indigenous populations. “Hospitalizations and intensive-care rates are sky high for off-reserve populations and testing is low. Both on and off reserves, about 18% of tests come back positive. The issues identified by Janet Smylie, research chair in Indigenous health knowledge and information at Well Living House at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto is threefold:

  1. Urban Indigenous people are not included in federal statistics nor are they “included in new initiatives to collect statistics on a disaggregated basis to take into account minorities
  2. They check all the boxes for being at high risk for catching COVID-19
  3. Due to health delivery being delivered by the provinces, Indigenous data is fragmented as a result of “decades of entrenched jurisdictional conflict and passing the buck”
  4. The trends in Manitoba could be indicative of broader trends impacting urban indigenous communities in other provinces and sound, reliable data is essential to inform decisions.

“Resources could be allocated to a fragile segment of the population in a way that is both effective and meaningful”. The National Association of Friendship Centres is at the frontline of delivering services to the urban Indigenous population with centres across the country. “Staff at the centres are constantly scrambling for extra space, resources and personal protective equipment to handle the safety demands of the virus.” Jocelyn Formsma, Executive Director, NAFC


January 28, 2021


Systemic Racism

Racism against Indigenous womern

Native Women’s Association of Canada – At a two-day meeting at which the issue of anti-Indigenous racism in Canada’s healthcare systems will be addressed by federal, provincial, and territorial governments as well as representatives of the First Nations, Métis and Inuit, NWAC is not being permitted to give more broadly based opening remarks Wednesday, along with other male-led National Indigenous Organizations. Had NWAC been permitted to speak at the meeting’s opening, said Ms. Whitman, NWAC president “we would have explained that Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse persons are disproportionately affected by systemic racism and violence in healthcare.” Instead, NWAC’s remarks the following day will be confined to the two narrower questions put by the government around “identifying diversity and intersectionality actions”.

The problem of racism in healthcare delivery moved to the forefront of national consciousness last year when Canadians heard the horrific and discriminatory remarks directed at Joyce Echaquan, an Indigenous woman, as she lay in her deathbed at a hospital in Quebec. “It is Indigenous women who have been subjected to forced sterilizations. It is Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people who have been the targets of violence that a National Inquiry found to be a genocide, and which forces many of us to seek medical treatment,” said Ms. Whitman.

“It is a problem to which we, at NWAC, have given much thought because it so profoundly affects our members,” she said. “We will be offering some ideas about ways to tackle racism in healthcare settings during the five minutes we have been allotted at the meeting on Thursday. But we would like the government to demonstrate that it is just as interested in hearing the voices of Indigenous women on this issue as it is in hearing the voices of Indigenous men.”

The experiences of Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse persons in the healthcare system are not the same as those of men. Success in defeating racism depends on our ability to recognize each other as inextricably linked partners in this task


April 23, 2020


COVID-19

Release of at-risk Indigenous inmates

The Indigenous Bar Association (IBA)– Calls Upon Federal, Provincial and Territorial Justice Ministers and Attorneys General to Immediately Release low-risk Indigenous Inmates over COVID-19.Specifically, we call for the immediate release of incarcerated Indigenous people and the following actions:

  • Immediately and minimally, carry-out the release of Indigenous inmates that are low-risk, non-violent, nearly eligible for parole, nearing sentence end, over 50 years of age, pregnant women, those offenders who are able to be adequately supervised in the community, and those at heightened risk due to pre-existing medical and chronic health conditions;
  • The release of inmates described above to apply to federal and provincial correctional facilities, including all remand, youth and short-term detentions centres;
    • For those that absolutely cannot be released, ensure:
    • Full access to medical and mental health care;]]
    • Full and equitable access to personal protective equipment, medical grade sanitizer and cleaning agents, personal hygiene products, and other critical supplies, with invariable availability of these supplies to all inmates and correction workers (including officers, administrators, and all other employees and contractors);
  • Access to enhanced cultural supports during heightened safety measures, ensuring any quarantine of those incarcerated is carried out in the least traumatic way, in an attempt to mitigate resurgence of traumatic experiences or intergenerational effects of the legacy of colonialism;
  • In accordance with domestic and international laws and conventions, ensure that institutions do not use isolation methods that are akin to segregation punishment for infected inmates, specifically:
    • Individuals should not serve longer than 15 days in segregation, isolation, solitary confinement, medical removal or administrative removal;
    • Those who are segregated within the 15-day limit are given access to daily use of shower, telephone, and recreational facilities;
    • Those who are segregated are given daily access to mental health professionals in attempt to mitigate the lasting damage done by isolation;
  • Implement the short and long-term measures identified recently by the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs in their open letter dated March 24, 2020; and
  • Correctional Services Canada and all provincial correctional jurisdictions implement the recommendations of the Correctional Investigator of Canada, Dr. Ivan Zinger and take notice of specific requests by Indigenous organizations and communities.

Protecting the health of oilsands workers is more important than protecting the health of Indigenous people as evidenced by the suspension of environmental monitoring by Alberta Energy Regulator


November 12, 2020


COVID-19

Systemic Racism at federal, provincial, territory ministers human rights meeting

NationTalk – 24 civil society groups attending the third ever meeting of Federal, Provincial, Territory Ministers responsible for human rights “condemned the obstructive attitude of some governments” in advancing international human rights obligations. Groups had pressed governments to commit to nation-wide law reform that will legally require governments to adopt a collaborative, accountable, consistent, transparent, well-coordinated approach to effectively implementing international human rights obligations in Canada. No commitment was made. Two governments boycotted the meeting:

The government of Quebec opposed included references to “systemic” racism in the final communiqué, a position that blatantly ignores the undeniable reality of deeply-rooted systemic racism in the province and across Canada, and thus reaffirms systemic racism as a nationwide reality.
The government of Alberta considers that the province is not bound to report on or engage with international instruments or mechanisms to which it is not a Party, a position that contravenes international law which makes it clear that federalism is no excuse or justification for failing to comply with international obligations.
In 2017, meeting for the first time in 29 years, ministers made several commitments to strengthen their collaboration in protecting human rights across Canada:

Ministers had taken account of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call on federal, provincial and territorial governments to “fully adopt and implement” the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It is a shocking and unacceptable omission to see no reference to the Declaration in the final communiqué from this week’s meeting.
During the past eight months of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, no government has applied – equitably or otherwise – an explicit economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights framework to analyze the problems laid bare, or to structure solutions.
A widely-endorsed proposal in April 2020 from 302 civil society groups, Indigenous peoples’ organizations and a broad spectrum of subject matter experts to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments to institute meaningful human rights oversight of their COVID-19 responses has not been taken up by any government in the country.

At the current meeting, Ministers discussed the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and agreed that it is “important that human rights principles be considered in the development of plans for a strong and equitable recovery from the pandemic for all Canadians” but in no way acknowledged or even referenced social and economic rights. The proposal for human rights oversight of COVID-19 responses was not addressed.


September 8, 2020


Health Care Reform

Unicef “Innocenti Report Card 16”

NationTalk – Release of Unicef “Innocenti Report Card 16: Worlds of Influence – Understanding What Shapes Child Well-being in Rich Countries” where Canada placed in the bottom 10 of 38 countries. In fact, all four countries with large Indigenous populations – who all initially opposed The United Nations Declaration the Rights of Indigenous People – ALL placed in the bottom 8: (Canada # 30, Australia # 32, New Zealand # 35 and the United States # 36) and experts attribute this to the poor health outcomes of Indigenous kids.

Unicef issued “Top 5 Policies to Defend Childhood in 2020” on Dec. 30, 2019 one of which # 3 “Ensure Fairness for indigenous Children.” The federal government should adopt the Spirit Bear Plan proposed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and endorsed by the Chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations to permanently end funding shortfalls in the services provided to First Nations children. First Nations children and families living on reserve and in the Territories receive public services funded by the federal government. Since Confederation, these services have fallen significantly short of what other Canadians receive. In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its Calls to Action, including a call to achieve parity for First Nations, Inuit and Métis children. Equitable spending on public services for children including clean water, health care, education and protection is their right.