Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – On the first day of the Special Chiefs Assembly on Health Legislation hosted by the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) in partnership with the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM), the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba (CPSM) issued an apology regarding Indigenous-Specific Racism in Medical Practice as part of its priority to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action.
“The apology statement is an acknowledgement of racism and discrimination in the health care system; we recognize the CPSM for being here today in person and in front of leadership, with a commitment to address this long-standing issue. We think of the many First Nations patients who have experienced racism and discrimination in medical practice, some of who lost their lives in the health care system and know that we have to collectively address this on many levels. It is incumbent on all of us to improve the treatment and care for First Nations people. We are First Nations people of this country, and we need to make it better for our people. We need to act now so that they are no longer treated the way that they have been treated. I walk away with cautious optimism until I hear and feel from our people the changes you promise here today,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick.
The CPSM, which is a medical regulatory body, noted that they are doing work at the College through the creation of an Advisory Circle that will advise the CPSM on an approach to Truth and Reconciliation. They initiated this work in 2021 because they recognized the work needed to address the harm being done to First Nations people. This formal apology is only a beginning to address those barriers of systemic racism in health care that affect patient safety.
“This public statement is an acknowledgement and apology of historical and current racism and discrimination on First Nations people in medical practice and health systems. The First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba (FNHSSM) board of directors met with the CPSM, and we believe this is a good first step in addressing the racism our citizens face when accessing the most basic of medical services. As we all know, our people have experienced racism and discrimination in all health systems that has impacted their health and access to health. We are committed to working in partnership with the CPSM to improve the treatment of and health outcomes for our people and communities,” said Black River Chief Sheldon Kent, Chair of the FNHSSM.
Moving forward, the AMC and FNHSSM commit to further communication and will work on actionable items with the CPSM to address racism in medical practice.
Read the Statement and Apology by The College of Physicians & Surgeons of Manitoba here.