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APTN National News :
Regina Man Drowns as People Refuse Assistance
by Nevil Hunt
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1. Pasqua First Nation man drowns while bystanders ignored help pleas
APTN National News Video
A desperate man spent about 30 minutes asking people to call 911 after his friend slipped under the surface of a manmade lake in Regina. The woman who finally called the emergency services speculates no one else helped because of racism.
Darlyn Boyd Johns is dead. (photo to left) He drowned in Regina last weekend.
If anyone cares, they have a strange way of showing it.
Johns was swimming in a manmade lake in the city when he went under. His friend – who was unnamed in a news report – asked people in the area to call 911. He asked to use their cell phones to make the call that might save a life.
Instead, he was ignored for about half an hour.
The woman who finally dialed 911, Lani Elliott, says "people dismissed him on what he looked like." She said the man asking for assistance is aboriginal and was dressed in a way that indicated he may be homeless. And she thinks that's why no one else would help.
If that's true, it means prejudice may have cost a life.
I'm not saying Johns isn't at fault for going into a lake where swimming is not allowed. And there's no way to know if an early call to 911 and emergency response may have been the difference.
Elliott said that when she called 911, the response of the emergency services was stellar. Police were on the scene in about two minutes.
For the people who turned down a request to help, there must be some serious regret today as they read about a dead man in the lake they strolled around on Saturday afternoon.
We all have prejudices. We're all susceptible.
Some of our prejudging is barely noticeable, while other reactions are overt and may even be spoken in certain company.
The key to being a good human being is to ignore past experiences when faced with someone new. That may run counter to our caveman instincts.
Before societies advanced, it probably made sense to fear things that appeared to be similar to other threats. Coming across a bear for the first time, an early human would have a better chance of survival if they remembered that things with big teeth and claws could be dangerous.
Today we have to consciously fight the instinct to assume a person who looks a certain way must therefore be like other people who appear the same way.
Not so many generations ago, our forefathers would see the skin colour of a man they had never met and assume them to be inferior. Today it seems we are still able to look at a man who appears homeless, or a man who appears aboriginal, and prejudge them.
This raises questions about Canadian society, not just the people of Regina.
The term "dignity of life" is thrown around, often in relation to death. But for people on the margins of our society, dignity can be as simple as being treated like an individual.
We all deserve the help of others, whether it's a matter of life and death, or if it's just another day.
Would you be willing to help someone who appeared homeless? Have you ever held back from helping someone because of appearances?
APTN National News :
Brain Sinclair: Ignored to Death
Ignored to Death – Part 1
Ignored to Death – Part 2
Ignored to Death – Part 3
APTN National News Report:
Why did Brian Sinclair die an avoidable and painful death, after waiting 34 hours in a hospital emergency room? What will the inquest bring for him and other Aboriginal people the healthcare system has failed? Will the system confront recent tragedies or cover them up?
The very first APTN National News Special Report: Ignored to Death takes an in-depth look at how the health care system treats Aboriginal Peoples. Cheryl McKenzie is your host for this investigative report that originally aired during APTN National News on June 29, 2010.
The report looks further into the cases involving Brian Sinclair and Dylan Campbell which made headlines in 2008 and 2010. The Winnipeg-based Southern Chiefs Organization has compiled a list of more than 100 individuals with serious complaints about the quality of health care provided to Aboriginal Peoples in Manitoba.
Brian Sinclair, a 45-year-old man from the Sagkeeng First Nation, died a very painful death after waiting for 34 hours in the emergency room of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre in September of 2008. Dylan Campbell was 11 years old when his parents took him to the Health Sciences Centre for a tonsillectomy which led to unspecified complications, resulting in Dylan being in a vegetative state with his chance of recovery in question. His family is unsatisfied with the hospital’s explanation.
A five-person team comprised of APTN National News and APTN’s Investigative News unit was formed to look into a number of health care complaints after a physician who was working at the Health Sciences Centre in 2008 contacted APTN to discuss a number of ethical concerns about the way the Brian Sinclair matter was handled by the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and provincial government officials. An interview with that physician, along with members of the Sinclair and Campbell families are featured during the 30-minute special report.
Police Recommend in Brian Sinclair Hospital Death: Report
APTN National News
WINNIPEG- Charges against a Winnipeg hospital and an emergency room staff member are reportedly looming after a year-long police investigation into the death of Brian Sinclair, a wheelchair bound double-amputee Aboriginal man who died after spending 34 hours waiting to see a doctor.
It is now up to Manitoba’s Crown attorney’s office to decide whether to go ahead with the charges, according to a report in the Winnipeg Free Press.
Winnipeg police, however, issued a statement Wednesday morning denying the report. The police statement said the investigation had not yet been concluded.
“This investigation has not been concluded and a report has not been forwarded to Manitoba Justice,” said the police statement.
On Sept. 21, 2008, Sinclair, 45, was found dead in the emergency room of Winnipeg’s Health Sciences Centre from a bladder infection. All he needed was a catheter change and antibiotics to deal with the infection.
An inquest has already been called in Sinclair's death. Criminal charges would more than likely delay the start of that inquiry which has already been delayed due to the police investigation.
Quoting a Manitoba justice source, the Winnipeg Free Press reported that police recommended a charge of criminal negligence causing death against an emergency room employee and a charge of failing to provide the necessities of life against the Health Sciences Centre.
Wealth equals health:
Poverty isn’t unique to Aboriginals, but Canada’s health disparities are most apparent among them
by Ken MacQueen
January 31, 2013
It was 3 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2008, when 45-year-old Brian Sinclair rolled his wheelchair into the emergency department of the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre, referred by a clinic doctor because of a bladder infection caused by a blocked catheter. He was a Metis with a cascade of social and health issues, the product of a mother haunted by her residential school experience. He had neurological and speech problems, a past history of substance abuse. He’d lost both legs to frostbite in 2007 after spending a bitter February night outside. His landlord had locked him out.
To some who saw him on the streets he was a stereotype of dysfunction. But what killed him in this busy, inner-city hospital on a September weekend were equally insidious attitudes that rendered Sinclair invisible. He spoke to a staff member at the triage desk, then rolled into the waiting area . . . and waited, vomiting and growing weaker. When he finally received medical attention—almost 34 hours later—it was to pronounce him dead. Fellow patients had found him dead in his wheelchair. The cause of death was “peritoneal infection.” A change of catheter and antibiotics could have saved him. An inquest will finally be held this August. But as a headline succinctly said, Brian Sinclair was “ignored to death.”
The manner of Sinclair’s death was an extreme and aberrant example of failure in a highly regarded hospital. But it is also sadly accurate to say that there are many thousands of premature and preventable deaths in Canada every year. They are people whose lifespans and health outcomes are determined by the postal codes in which they are born and raised, by race or ethnicity, the function or dysfunction of their families, the quality of their housing, their levels of income and education, the jobs they hold, or don’t, the foods they eat, even the degree to which they feel they control their destinies. These are the social determinants of health—an increasing area of focus and concern for researchers and health professionals. “We can’t talk about the health care system without talking about this,” says Anna Reid, an emergency room doctor in Yellowknife and president of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA).
Simply put, wealth equals health, a problem exacerbated by the growing disparity between the very rich and the very poor, and by social conditions taking a toll in Aboriginal and northern communities. The further you are down the socio-economic ladder, the sooner you are likely to die, a fact borne out in scores of Canadian and international studies. “We know that 50 per cent of patient’s health outcomes are determined by their socio-economic factors, versus only 25 per cent by the actual health care system itself,” says Reid. “The other 25 per cent of your health outcomes are determined by biological, genetic and environmental factors.”
When physicians focus on income disparity in their clientele, it moves medicine uncomfortably close to the political realm. More than a few politicians have suggested the CMA should butt out of the issue, says Reid. “But, as I said, it’s a big part of the health picture.”
Drill down into the diffuse agenda of the Idle No More movement, and the foundational concerns are the same social needs that determine the health of all Canadians. “Poverty is killing our people,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo, before taking sick leave himself.
Poverty, of course, is not a uniquely Aboriginal problem. It takes minutes to travel by car or bus between the Winnipeg neighbourhoods of Fort Garry and Point Douglas. But those living in Fort Garry, a solidly middle-class enclave near the University of Manitoba, live on average more than eight years longer than those who alight from the bus in Point Douglas. There, income and education levels are lower, and a more transient population—29 per cent Aboriginal and with many new immigrants—endure poor housing stock and high crime rates. It’s the difference between a man living to 80 in Fort Garry, and not seeing his 72nd birthday in Point Douglas, according to the Community Health Assessment of the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority.
But it is among indigenous Canadians that the health disparities are writ large. Last spring, the Health Council of Canada staged cross-country consultations to investigate Aboriginal health care delivery in urban Canada, where half of the country’s 1.3 million indigenous people live. The council panel heard many Aboriginal people don’t trust and don’t use the mainstream health care system, until an illness reaches a crisis stage. “They don’t feel safe from stereotyping and racism, and because the Western approach to health care can feel alienating and intimidating,” it said in a report released in December.
The report cited examples of doctors who wouldn’t prescribe painkillers on the assumption that an Aboriginal person would become addicted or was already abusing prescription drugs. There were cases in emergency departments where Aboriginal people were improperly assessed because they were assumed to be drunk when in fact they were injured or in a diabetic coma. One nurse refused to let a beaten, bloodied Aboriginal man have a bed because [she assumed]he’d only be discharged to resume his high-risk behaviour. In fact, he owned a home and was mugged on the way home from work.
No region has worse health than the predominantly Inuit territory of Nunavut. A 2011 territorial report comparing health indicators with the rest of Canada is a shocking read:
• Infant mortality is almost three times higher than the rest of Canada. Most infant deaths occur between 28 days and a year, the report said. “This means that social factors, rather than the medical care system, make a significant contribution to our infant mortality rate.”
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• Lung cancer deaths are four times higher.
• Potential years of life lost to suicide are more than nine times higher.
• Sexually transmitted chlamydia and gonorrhea are respectively 17 and 18 times higher.
• Tuberculosis rates are 30 times higher.
While Canadian life expectancy surpassed 80 years by 2005, it fell to 69.8 years in Nunavut, losing a half year from a decade earlier.
Reid, whose Yellowknife hospital treats many Inuit from the western part of Nunavut, says a high smoking rate—54 per cent of Nunavut residents 12 years and older smoke—has obvious health consequences. So too does the territory’s grossly overcrowded housing, which increases stress, impacts education outcomes and employment prospects, and contributes to Third World levels of highly infectious tuberculosis (TB).
History also plays a role. Too often Reid sees cases of TB left untreated by elders who have painful memories of the hospital ships that traversed the North in the 1950s. Then, Inuit diagnosed with TB were kept aboard and sent to sanitoriums in the south for years at a time, often with no chance to notify family of their fate. [They just disappeared!] Today, some elders, suffering relapses of TB, delay seeking treatment for fear they’ll be sent away, like they were as children. By waiting until a crisis hits, they are indeed sent to Yellowknife, often to receive a terminal diagnosis, Reid says. They linger in Yellowknife until a bed and support nurse are shipped to the community. “These people are terrified,” says Reid. “They just want to go home to die, which is why they never went to the nurse’s station in the first place.”
A lack of indigenous health care providers adds to the alienation. The Northwest Territories, for instance, has nine official Aboriginal languages, but not a single Aboriginal doctor. Winnipeg has the largest urban Aboriginal population in Canada, almost nine per cent of the city’s citizens, yet just three per cent of health care staff are Aboriginal.
Dr. Catherine Cook, (photo left)vice-president of population and Aboriginal health for the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and a panel member on the Health Council of Canada report, says health care must reﬂect indigenous culture and values. Cook, a Metis, saw the “power imbalance” as a young doctor servicing fly-in communities in northern Manitoba in the early 1990s.
A typical example was a nursing station that arbitrarily booked a pregnant woman on a flight south for delivery two weeks before her due date. When she didn’t show for the flight, it was left to Cook to determine why. It turns out she needed to ready the home for her mother to babysit. “Nobody had asked if [the flight] was convenient for her.”
The need to foster a sense of “cultural safety” is a priority for the health region, she says, “recognizing and acknowledging that racism exists in all our systems, our health care system, our education system, our judicial system. We need to get comfortable with the word and look at ways of addressing those actions that impact people, not only their physical health but their emotional health.”
A Winnipeg high school internship program that gives Aboriginal students credits for health care placements is yielding results. There are also incentives to consider medical school or nursing for the growing cohort of Aboriginal university students.
Aboriginal recruitment and mentorship has been a priority for 25 years for Barry Lavallee, (photo left) a family doctor, director of the Centre for Aboriginal Health Education at the University of Manitoba. Lavallee, of Saulteaux and Metis descent, favours a separate Aboriginal health care system that values indigenous experience and traditional healing. He’s medical adviser on one such successful program, the nurse-run Diabetes Integration Project, which serves 19 Manitoba communities, focusing on prevention, clinical assessment and intervention. Many of the staff are Aboriginal, all are non-judgmental and “incredibly literate” about First Nations culture, he says. The result is a significant drop in diabetes complications. Lavallee calls social determinants a “bulls–t” term that masks uglier words like racism, colonialism, classism, “all those -isms,” he says.
It is from that frustration that the Idle No More movement has developed, he said. The demands for an equitable share of resources, safety for women, better housing and education are only part of the answer, he says. “If you don’t address racism in the background, perpetuated by policy, then we’re still not going to achieve true [health] equity.”
On the Sagkeeng First Nation, 125 km northeast of Winnipeg, Chief Fontaine understands where the Idle No More springs from even if he doesn’t like the slogan. “Patient no More” might be more appropriate. “If I want to put it bluntly,” he says, “I haven’t been idle.” Nor does he like the victimization implicit in the word racism. “I’ve seen it, and I’ve probably experienced it myself many times,” he says, “but I’m never going to play that racism card.”
That said, as a member of the Assembly of First Nations committee on health, he sees the human cost of social policies. If the federal government sees education as the ticket to independence, jobs and health, why are Aboriginal students funded at rates 20 to 30 per cent lower than other students? Why this year did the band have to turn down 60 high school graduates with good grades seeking support for post-secondary education? Why is so little focus put on health prevention?
Fontaine hopes these are among the issues resolved in future talks with federal leaders. “We need to stand side-by-side, not toe-to- toe,” he says. “Confrontation isn’t going to work, we need the Canadian people on side.”
The inquest this summer into Brian Sinclair’s death is certain to open old wounds and confirm suspicions that the health care system fails Canada’s indigenous people. Not long after he was found dead, protocols were established to prevent anyone lingering forgotten in Winnipeg’s emergency departments. The hospital was equally quick to determine that, while the system for tracking ER patients was flawed, its staff were blameless.
That is the thing about a system failure: it has no face. Only its victims have names. In that regard, Brian Sinclair died a lonely and unnecessary death, but many thousands die with him—casualties of class or race or circumstance.
Click hear to view video: Perspectives on Child Welfare: 60’s Scoop
Aboriginal History:"Did You Know?" 1/4
A brief history of Canadian residential schools designed to indoctrinate and assimilate aboriginal children
CBC - Canada June 14, 2010
What is a residential school?
In the 19th century, the Canadian government believed it was responsible for educating and caring for the country's aboriginal people. It thought their best chance for success was to learn English and adopt Christianity and Canadian customs. Ideally, they would pass their adopted lifestyle on to their children, and native traditions would diminish, or be completely abolished in a few generations.
The Canadian government developed a policy called "aggressive assimilation" to be taught at church-run, government-funded industrial schools, later called residential schools. The government felt children were easier to mould than adults, and the concept of a boarding school was the best way to prepare them for life in mainstream society.
Residential schools were federally run, under the Department of Indian Affairs. Attendance was mandatory. Agents were employed by the government to ensure all native children attended.
Initially, about 1,100 students attended 69 schools across the country. In 1931, at the peak of the residential school system, there were about 80 schools operating in Canada. There were a total of about 130 schools in every territory and province except Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick from the earliest in the 19th century to the last, which closed in 1996.
In all, about 150,000 aboriginal, Inuit and Métis children were removed from their communities and forced to attend the schools.
What went wrong?
Residential schools were established with the assumption that aboriginal culture was unable to adapt to a rapidly modernizing society. It was believed that native children could be successful if they assimilated into mainstream Canadian society by adopting Christianity and speaking English or French. Students were discouraged from speaking their first language or practising native traditions. If they were caught, they would experience severe punishment.
Throughout the years, students lived in substandard conditions and endured physical and emotional abuse. There are also many allegations of sexual abuse. Students at residential schools rarely had opportunities to see examples of normal family life. They were in school 10 months a year, away from their parents. All correspondence from the children was written in English, which many parents couldn't read. Brothers and sisters at the same school rarely saw each other, as all activities were segregated by gender.
When students returned to the reserve, they often found they didn't belong. They didn't have the skills to help their parents, and became ashamed of their native heritage. The skills taught at the schools were generally substandard; many found it hard to function in an urban setting. The aims of assimilation meant devastation for those who were subjected to years of mistreatment.
When did the calls for victim compensation begin?
In 1990, Phil Fontaine, then leader of the Association of Manitoba Chiefs, called for the churches involved to acknowledge the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse endured by students at the schools. A year later, the government convened a Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. Many people told the commission about their residential school experiences, and its 1996 report recommended a separate public inquiry into residential schools. That recommendation was never followed.
Over the years, the government worked with the Anglican, Catholic, United and Presbyterian churches, which ran residential schools, to design a plan to compensate the former students.
In 2007, two years after it was first announced, the federal government formalized a $1.9-billion compensation package for those who were forced to attend residential schools.
Under the federal compensation package, what will former students receive?
Compensation called Common Experience Payments was made available to all residential schools students who were alive as of May 30, 2005. Former residential school students were eligible for $10,000 for the first year or part of a year they attended school, plus $3,000 for each subsequent year.
Any money remaining from the $1.9-billion package will be given to foundations that support learning needs of aboriginal students.
As of April 15, 2010, $1.55 billion had been paid, representing 75,800 cases.
Acceptance of the Common Experience Payment releases the government and churches from all further liability relating to the residential school experience, except in cases of sexual abuse and serious incidents of physical abuse.
What will happen in those cases of alleged sexual or serious physical abuse?
An Independent Assessment Process, or IAP, was set up to address sexual abuse cases and serious incidents of physical abuse. A former student who accepts the Common Experience Payment can pursue a further claim for sexual or serious physical abuse.
Is there more to the package than compensating the victims?
The government will also fund a Commemoration initiative, which consists of events, projects and memorials on a national and community level. A total of $20 million will be available over five years.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation was given an additional $125 million.
Churches involved in the administration of residential school will contribute up to $100 million in cash and services toward healing initiatives.
The settlement also promised a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine the legacy of the residential schools. The commission was established on June 1, 2008.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper delivered an official apology to residential school students in Parliament on June 11, 2008.
Who else has apologized for the abuse?
Though the Catholic church oversaw three-quarters of Canadian residential schools, it was the last church to have one of its leaders officially address the abuse.
'I am sorry, more than I can say, that we were part of a system which took you and your children from home and family.'—Archbishop Michael Peers, Anglican Church of Canada
On April 29, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "sorrow" to a delegation from Canada's Assembly of First Nations for the abuse and "deplorable" treatment that aboriginal students suffered at Roman Catholic Church-run residential schools.
Assembly of First Nations Leader Phil Fontaine said it wasn't an "official apology" but added that he hoped the statement will "close the book" on the issue of apologies for residential school survivors.
Other churches implicated in the abuse apologized in the 1990s.
Archbishop Michael Peers clearly offered an apology on behalf of the Anglican Church of Canada in 1993, stating "I am sorry, more than I can say, that we were part of a system which took you and your children from home and family."
Four leaders of the Presbyterian Church signed a statement of apology in 1994. "It is with deep humility and in great sorrow that we come before God and our aboriginal brothers and sisters with our confession," it said.
The United Church of Canada formally apologized to Canada's First Nations people in 1986, and offered its second apology in 1998 for the abuse that happened at residential schools.
"To those individuals who were physically, sexually, and mentally abused as students of the Indian Residential Schools in which the United Church of Canada was involved, I offer you our most sincere apology," the statement by the church's General Council Executive said.
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