Tears filled Cheryl Scott’s eyes as she spoke of the abuse suffered by her husband, Kanehsata’kehró: no Winston Nelson, while being treated at St. Eustache Hospital.
“They can’t treat a human this way,” Scott said. “There is too much that has happened in this hospital – no native person or anyone else deserves this kind of treatment in a hospital. ”
Among other things, Nelson’s wife claimed that her husband was called “Mohawk”, “dog” and “idiot”. She also recounted hearing nurses at the facility imitating stereotypical Indigenous war songs outside her husband’s bedroom.
It was at a press conference Thursday, with the help of the Center for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR), that the two community members announced they were moving forward with the filing. of a civil rights violation complaint against the hospital for systemic racism in healthcare.
The decision to go ahead with the complaint to the Quebec Human Rights Commission stems in part from their dissatisfaction with the outcome of an internal investigation into a distressing event that occurred earlier this year.
When Nelson, 71, was discharged home from St. Eustace’s Hospital in freezing cold January, wearing only a hospital gown, Scott said it was the last indignity she and her husband would suffer from. the part of the establishment.
“My husband has faced the racism of this hospital for too long,” she said. “I’m going to the highest court in Canada if I have to, to get his dignity, his respect and everything they’ve taken from him.”
After being admitted on December 30, 2020, due to persistent heart problems, Nelson was released less than a week later when doctors presumably deemed his condition terminal. Having been in a wheelchair since 2013 and with Scott unable to drive, she arranged for a taxi to pick him up on January 5 so he could be safely brought home.
“I was told that the girl who took off my husband’s blanket, when she brought him downstairs, didn’t know any better because it was her first day,” Scott explained.
The Laurentian Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS), which oversees the Saint-Eustache establishment, conducted an internal investigation into the circumstances that led to the disturbing situation.
In a response to La Porte de l’Est, CISSS spokesperson Dominique Gauthier said that although the investigation determined that the support offered during this event was inadequate and lacking in sensitivity, the findings did not indicated no form of discrimination.
In light of this response, CRARR Executive Director Fo Niemi said the case rather appears to be the latest strike in a series of incidents Nelson has been subjected to due to his Mohawk identity.
“We clearly started to see a compilation of incidents that highlight some racial prejudice and the way he was treated that day, when he was sent home in such a vulnerable and degrading state,” said Niemi said.
The director of the civil rights organization explained that CRARR was mandated by the family to file a complaint with the Commission against the hospital.
“With systemic racism, the complaint is basically looking at the totality of how it was treated,” Niemi said. “Any form of differential treatment, intentional or not, could essentially compromise his right to equality, dignity and security of the person.”
While the investigation into Joyce Echaquan’s death is ongoing, Niemi has voiced this case. along with the findings of the Viens Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ Access to Public Services, set a precedent for Nelson and other victims to seek legal action.
“We think we need to file a complaint, so that a formal investigation by the Human Rights Commission into systemic racism to measure to what extent – not only in this case but in all health care cases, how the systemic racism against indigenous peoples manifests itself when a person goes to the hospital for treatment, ”he explained.
Along with this complaint, the director of CRARR said he hopes the family’s decision to take this route will encourage more Onkwehón: we to push back the healthcare institutions that still favor discriminatory and dangerous climates for groups. marginalized.
“We must break this glass ceiling because there is a general distrust of the Quebec justice system and the Quebec human rights system,” he said. “We have to get over this – it’s the only way things will change. ”
As efforts are underway across the country to achieve fair treatment in public services for Indigenous peoples, Scott has resolutely joined in this fight.
“I have been fighting and fighting and fighting for years,” she said. “I just hope the truth comes out and I just pray that it can be done before he leaves.”