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Opinion

We need to stop the epidemic of racist health care against Indigenous peoples

By Rose LeMay      

More people have died of racism in the health-care system in the past decade than from SARS. Imagine if we gave the disease of racism in health care the same attention that we are giving to the coronavirus, considering the spread rate of racist stereotypes in health care.

Last December, I had the fortunate and unique experience of being admitted to the Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, pictured. It was one of the best health-care experiences in my life. I experienced no racism, at no point did any staff member talk down to me, assume I was drunk, belittle my pain, nor treat me any less than any other Canadian, writes Rose LeMay. Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

OTTAWA—There is a pervasive stereotype in the health-care system that Indigenous peoples are all drunks. Every single Indigenous person that I know has personal or family experiences of falling victim to this stereotype. Dr. Janet Smylie reflected in her report in 2015, “First Peoples, Second Class Treatment,” that many Indigenous peoples endure racism when seeking services in hospital emergency wards.

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