NDP MPP Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), critic for Indigenous and Treaty Relations, released the following statement on the deaths of Brent Sky and Heather Winterstein. Sky, 32, of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, was sent home from a hospital in Kenora while experiencing head pain, and died the next day from a brain bleed. Winterstein, a 24-year-old Anishnawbe woman, was reportedly sent home from the hospital in St. Catharines after her pain was dismissed, and died the next day of a Strep A infection:
“Our hearts go out to the families of Brent Sky and Heather Winterstein. These two young Indigenous people had full, happy lives ahead of them, and I share in the sorrow their loved ones are feeling right now.
Their deaths in Kenora and St. Catharines are under investigation. But Indigenous people see these tragic deaths in the context of having watched generations of our people getting inequitable health care.
We must honour people’s experiences in accessing the right to health care, especially those shown to us by Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw mother of seven who died in September 2020 while being subject to horrendous racism while accessing health care.
At the minimum, we must be addressing anti-Indigenous systemic racism in health care by ensuring all the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action are implemented, specifically call to action number 18:
‘We call upon the federal, provincial, territorial, and Aboriginal governments to acknowledge that the current state of Aboriginal health in Canada is a direct result of previous Canadian government policies, including residential schools, and to recognize and implement the healthcare rights of Aboriginal people as identified in international law, constitutional law, and under the Treaties.’
Now, more than ever before, we need a health care system that Indigenous peoples in Ontario can trust.
We need to acknowledge that systemic racism exists in these institutions and that we are working together to ensure there are no more needless deaths and unnecessary suffering for Indigenous people.”
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