HANNA, Alta. – The December death of an Indigenous woman in an Alberta hospital has the Southern Chiefs Organization (SCO) calling for change.
Lillian Vanasse, who is originally from Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation in Manitoba, was living in Hanna when she was admitted to the hospital on Christmas Day.
She had severe flu-like symptoms and shortness of breath.
The SCO says her husband reported that despite pleas for help and expressing the severity of her symptoms, Vanasse was not given proper treatment.
She died on Dec. 26.
The SCO calls Vanasse’s story painfully familiar.
“We're saying enough is enough & that not one more of our Relatives should die of racism. Our condolences & prayers go out to Lillian’s family."
— SCO Inc (@SCOIncMB) January 26, 2021
“This past year alone, she joins Joyce Echaquan and Cheynna Gardner and others who died tragically due to health care systems that are steeped in racist attitudes and misconceptions,” reads a release from the organization.
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Corey Ashley, Vanasse’s husband, has filed a complaint with the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons demanding that the hospital’s policies be reviewed by a third party.
“It is abundantly clear that if nothing is done now to stop this disturbing pattern, the body count for First Nation people will continue to rise, especially given the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. All orders of government must take the steps to ensure that no one is subjected to racism when they seek lifesaving assistance from any health care system in Canada. Our lives matter,” said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels in a release.
“How much more are we expected to take?”
WATCH: ‘She didn’t deserve to die’: husband of Lillian Vanasse says neglect, racism led to death in hospital
The SCO says there’s overwhelming evidence of systemic racism towards First Nations people. A recent survey from the group suggests 70 per cent of people polled have experienced racism when accessing services or programs specifically in the Manitoba healthcare system.
“We are saying enough is enough and that not one more of our relatives should die of racism,” said Daniels.
“It is vital that we create equitable access and culturally-appropriate health care for Elders, youth, families, and our communities. Leaving this in the hands of colonial leadership continues to lead to severe and deadly consequences.”