The family of Thomas Favel, 77, an elder from Kawacatoose First Nation say they’ve filed a complaint with the health ombudsperson of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) saying that staff at Regina General Hospital were racist towards him.
Favel’s daughter, Ann Ewenin said her dad, who is a longtime dialysis patient, was airlifted to the hospital with bronchitis and pneumonia.
“They restrained him that night, and they laid him flat on his bed. When I got there, he still had phlegm on his chin from trying to spit it up where he was choking all night. I was mad. I started taking pictures and questioning the nurses,” she told a news conference in Regina surrounded by family and members of the FSIN.
Ewenin said explanations from the nurses ranged from her father becoming delirious during the night and trying to flee, to him almost falling when he was walking and having to be restrained for his own good.
She shared photos she took of her father’s bruises at the news conference claiming he received them while being restrained in the hospital.
Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron said the health care system is failing First Nations people like Thomas Favel.
“When our chiefs of the day signed treaty in the 1800s, negotiated and bargained, and for several days, several months some chiefs held out. One of them was a medicine chest clause under the treaty right to health,” Cameron said. “Where all First Nations people would have access and the ability to be treated fairly, equally and with dignity and respect. It’s not provincial law, it’s not federal law, it’s international law made with the Crown.
“This is what our chiefs had envisioned in the year 2022. Somewhere along the way, it has failed our First Nations.”
Cameron said the complaint was filed with the FSIN’s health ombudsman because “past investigations by the Saskatchewan Health Authority have failed to challenge racial discrimination experienced by First Nations in Saskatchewan’s health care system.”
He said chiefs in assembly passed a resolution to create the FSIN Health Ombudsman Office.
The interim director of the office, Diane Lafond, said First Nations people want the respect, dignity and care that other Canadians receive.
“Our First Nations people don’t speak up a lot about what goes on in those hospitals, what goes on in the pharmacies, what goes on in the long-term care homes,” she said. “Their voices need to be heard. Which was the reason why we needed a system-an organization, to be their voice.”
Lafond says systematic changes need to happen, and that’s what the Ombudsperson’s office will try to facilitate. The office was announced in February.
APTN News reached out for comment from the Saskatchewan Health Authority in response to the allegations but did not receive a response before this story was published.