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AFN Calls for Immediate Action on Systemic Racism in Healthcare and Justice for the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men, Boys, and Two Spirit People

Press Release

Sep 21, 2023

(Ottawa, Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ontario) – As the Dubois family concludes their journey from Regina to Ottawa, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard is urgently calling on the Government of Canada to confront the glaring systemic racism in the healthcare system and to establish a National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Men, Boys, and Two Spirit People.

The Dubois family began a march from Regina to Ottawa, in remembrance and to raise awareness of the circumstances surrounding Haven Dubois’ death, a 14-year-old of the Pasqua First Nation, whose suspicious demise was quickly and unjustly classified as “accidental,” and in remembrance of Steven Dubois, who faced blatant systemic bias and neglect while receiving end-of-life medical care in a hospital, in Regina, SK.

“I stand united with the Dubois family and the countless other families across Canada, mourning their loved ones lost to violence or deep-rooted systemic racism,” said Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard. “It is imperative that we not only listen but take decisive action, ensuring their pleas for justice are neither ignored nor forgotten.”

Today, alongside the Dubois family, the AFN calls upon the Government of Canada to:

Immediately launch a National Inquiry into Missing, Murdered and Neglected Indigenous Men, Boys, and Two-Spirit People;
Implement cultural security policies to safeguard Indigenous patients from neglect, racism, and discrimination;
Establish a commission of inquiry into the circumstances surrounding Haven Dubois’ death;
Conduct a special investigation into negligence contributing to the death of Haven Dubois.

“Similar to the silence faced by the advocates for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, the pleas from families like the Dubois and others nationwide have often fallen on the federal government’s deaf ears. It is our shared responsibility to ensure the safety, justice, and closure for every family affected by these tragedies,” said Interim National Chief Bernard. “These aren’t isolated incidents. Indigenous men, boys, and 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals are at a disproportionate risk of violence, victimization, neglect, and disappearance, whether within their communities or in urban centres. The system has failed them, and we demand change. We call for an immediate and thorough inquiry into the enduring colonial structures and policies in Canada’s policing, justice, and healthcare systems that perpetuate violence against Indigenous Men, Boys, and Two-Spirit People.”

According to Statistics Canada, Indigenous men and boys are seven times more likely to be murdered than their non-Indigenous counterparts. In 2020 alone, of the 201 Indigenous homicide victims, 81% were men. This represents the highest rate since 2014.

“The facts offered by Statistics Canada aren’t just numbers; they are people and represent a clear pattern of systemic discrimination, prejudice, and violence. While no action can undo past harm or replace what has been taken, our steps forward can ensure a path to healing and justice for Survivors, communities, and grieving families. The time for action is now. We urge the Government of Canada to stand with us and take concrete action that’s been long overdue,” Interim National Chief Joanna Bernard concluded.

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The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is a national advocacy organization that works to advance the collective aspirations of First Nations individuals and communities across Canada on matters of national or international nature and concern.

Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates

Contact information:

Ayman Hammamieh
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
343-573-1771 (mobile)
ahammamieh@afn.ca

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