Around 40 people showed their support for Connor Sutton and his family outside Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria on July 21, 2020. (Veronica Vander Heiden photo)

Rally held outside Victoria hospital for Indigenous man allegedly denied medical care

A First Nations member of the Canadian Armed forces was denied respectful care says family

Dozens gathered for a rally outside of Victoria’s Royal Jubilee Hospital earlier this week in support of an Indigenous Duncan man who was allegedly denied respectful care.

The demonstration held Tuesday (July 21) was organized by Taliais Treena Black, who says it has been a month of living hell for her family since her son, 23-year-old Connor Sutton, was placed in a psychiatric ward at the hospital.

“I want to bring this into the light for all those that go through the same thing and don’t have a mom or someone on the outside that can use their voice to help bring awareness and change,” she wrote in a Facebook post a few hours before the rally.

READ MORE: Healthcare racism probe must go to systemic roots, not just ‘bad apples’: Indigenous doctor

Sutton is a member of the Canadian Armed Forces and T’sou-ke First Nation located on southern Vancouver Island.

He was reportedly told to go to a homeless shelter by hospital staff who refused to assist him after he sought aid at a hospital in Duncan in June for chest pains, vomiting, speech and breathing difficulties, as well as severe confusion due to a hole in his esophagus.

The family said doctors at Royal Jubilee still don’t have a diagnosis.

In a news release also issued this week, Chief Don Tom, vice president of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs called on Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, who is leading an investigation into allegations of anti-Indigenous racism in the health care system, to get involved.

“For Connor to be involuntarily held in the psych ward with the immense physical, emotional, and mental trauma he is experiencing, and with there being no proper diagnosis of his condition, is cruel and appalling,” said Tom.

READ MORE: Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Tom also urged officials with the armed forces to get involved.

In an emailed statement to Black Press Media, Island Health Authority CEO Kathy MacNeil said she and executive lead for Indigenous Health, Dawn Thomas, met with Black the day after the rally and are looking into Sutton’s case.

“Island Health has acknowledged systemic anti-Indigenous racism occurs within our health authority,” MacNeil said.

Island Health is committed to supporting the review by Turpel-Lafond, she added.

Turpel-Lafond was appointed earlier this month by B.C’s Minister of Health, Adrian Dix to lead an independent investigation into racism within the province’s health care system the day after shocking allegations were brought forward that emergency room nurses and doctors were playing a Price is Right-style game to guess the blood alcohol level of patients.

The First Nations Health Authority has urged all Indigenous people to complete a survey of their health care experiences, which will assist Turpel-Lafond’s in understanding the presence and extent of First Nations, Metis and Inuit specific discrimination in B.C.’s health care system.

The survey closes July 30.


Do you have a comment about this story? email:
rebecca.dyok@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC HealthIndigenousracism

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police seek suspect in rash of Castlegar thefts

There have been a number of thefts over the last two weeks in Castlegar.

All Mercer Celgar workers in Castlegar return to work

At least 215 of the workers were laid off during a temporary mill shutdown in July

Columbia Avenue and Hwy 3 hot spots for crashes in Castlegar

In 2019, there were 624 accidents in Castlegar and 3047 over the last five years.

Nelson’s American sister city faces COVID-19 culture war

In Sandpoint, Idaho, wearing a mask is about Black Lives Matter, gun rights, and COVID-19

UPDATE: Body of Slocan River drowning victim recovered

The man was swimming near Winlaw on Wednesday.

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Most Read