WENDAKE, QC, Aug. 25, 2023 /CNW/ – At a time when the Committee on Institutions of the National Assembly of Québec is preparing to begin its specific consultations on Bill 32, an Act to establish the cultural safety approach within the health and social services network, the decision rendered on Wednesday by the Tribunal d’arbitrage de grief reinforces the concerns widely shared by First Nations as well as the findings affirmed by many public commissions of inquiry, particularly in terms of cultural safety, racism and discrimination.
In its decision, the Tribunal d’arbitrage de grief recognizes the existence of systemic discrimination. However, the purely administrative decision to reinstate the patient attendant in her same workplace deeply undermines the confidence of First Nations in the entire Quebec health and social services network.
“It’s obvious that the policies and laws of the current health care system must be decolonized to enshrine genuine principles of cultural safety co-developed with First Nations. The injustices experienced by Joyce Echaquan or any other First Nations person are unacceptable and deserve to be addressed with all necessary means to put an end to it,” said Derek Montour, President of the FNQLHSSC.
In its Bill 32, the government tries to avoid looking bad by stating that it recognizes the importance of cultural safety for Indigenous peoples, but it persists in not recognizing Joyce’s Principle and any form of systemic discrimination. Yet, Article 24 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is clear: “Indigenous peoples […] have the right to access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services.”
First Nations are in the best position to recommend actions aimed at bringing about the necessary systemic changes using a real approach to cultural safety that they will have defined. Indeed, the Institut national de santé publique du Québec, in a recent report, clearly distinguishes “cultural awareness” from “cultural safety,” which requires the full involvement of First Nations in decisions that affect them and the recognition of systemic discrimination and its effects.
“The Chiefs Assembly of the AFNQL is wholeheartedly with Joyce Echaquan’s family and the community of Manawan and reiterates its support in their efforts to ensure that Joyce’s Principle is finally recognized and implemented. We must remain vigilant and attentive to the impacts that this decision will have on our populations,” declared Ghislain Picard, Chief of the AFNQL.
“This affair has reopened deep wounds. It reminds us that, as officials elected by our people, we must ensure that all First Nations receive fair, equitable and safe services. The Council of Elected Women of the AFNQL supports the family and community of Manawan in their efforts,” said Nadia Robertson, Councillor of the Micmac Nation of Gespeg and spokesperson for the Council of Elected Women of the AFNQL.
The Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador is the political organization that brings together 43 Chiefs of the First Nations in Quebec and Labrador.
The First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Health and Social Services Commission is a non-profit association that accompanies Quebec First Nations in achieving their health, wellness, culture and self-determination goals.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador