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Disrupting systemic racism and decolonizing health care

Enough is enough.We are heartbroken by the accounts of the last moments of Joyce Echaquan’s life.

For far too long, systemic racism in the institution of health care has adversely affected all aspects of Indigenous peoples’ health, from susceptibility and exposure to communicable and chronic disease (through the social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, inadequate housing and intergenerational trauma from the Residential School System) to mistreatment and improper diagnosis by health-care providers.

We cannot help but bring our voice to this issue. We need to act; we’ve been silent for far too long.

As an organization that represents physicians, Doctors Nova Scotia plays a critical role in acknowledging and eliminating the racism that shows up in health care. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: racism is a public health issue.

People who experience racism report poorer health-care experiences, where their symptoms and health problems are dismissed or ignored by medical professionals. When we deny the existence of anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism in health care, we enable the kind of behaviours that lead to tragic deaths like this.

We can do better. We must do better.

We are committed to working with the medical community, physicians, Indigenous leaders and system partners to disrupt systemic racism and decolonize the health-care system to improve the health-care experiences of Indigenous people in Nova Scotia. We are all treaty people.

#JoyceEchaquan #IndigenousHealth #JusticeForJoyce