Indigenous Health and the Racist Healthcare System

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On Oct. 22, the Workshops in Building Capacity for Reconciliation held the second workshop of the school year. The night was focused on Indigenous Healthcare and the secretive (and maybe not so secretive) ways in which healthcare institutions around the country have been degrading and exploiting Indigenous peoples for decades (and still do today).

The speaking panel of the night consisted of: Elder Clifford Cardinal (Whitefish-Goodfish Lake), Gary Geddes (Author Medic`ine Unbundled), Tibetha Kemble (Director, Indigenous Health Initiatives U of A), Dr. Cara Bablitz (MD, Indigenous Wellness Clinic), and Natasha Gougeon (RN, Indigenous Wellness Clinic). Cardinal and Geddes talked about the horrific realities that many Indigenous peoples have faced with Indian hospitals that were set up to segregate Indigenous Peoples from other Canadians for health care.

Indigenous people have been forced against their will to be used for top-secret experimentations for years on end. Some, like Mary Theresa Morris, who was held captive in a hospital for 17 years of experimentation (after just simply walking into the hospital, not being unusually unhealthy in any way), have stories that need to be told. Eugenics (sterilization without consent) was also practiced on many patients.

Kemble, Bablitz, and Gougeon talked about the modern side of healthcare. Bablitz and Gougeon expressed their work with the Indigenous Wellness Clinic, located in Edmonton, which is set up for Indigenous peoples. The Clinic blends western and Indigenous health practice, and uses healing methodologies within the medicine wheel (spiritual health, mental health, physical health, emotional health). Not only do they treat Indigenous peoples here, they also advocate for patients who have to seek further medical attention outside the Clinic. The Indigenous Wellness Clinic is also used as a space where people can come to hang out for the day; it is a place for some to seek shelter and a hot meal on cold days. The Clinic is focused on providing Indigenous peoples with positive experiences in healthcare as opposed to the mistreatment they have experienced in the past, as well as today, in non-Indigenous centres.

Kemble talked about her role in educating medical doctors about how to care for Indigenous patients from an understanding of their own cultures. She has done work in responding to the TRC in ways to help ensure that there are more Indigenous health professionals, and that all practitioners (Indigenous and non-Indigenous) work with the knowledge of the past so as to not repeat these horrible things in the future. One way they are doing this is by having mandatory classes on Indigenous history and current issues for all students in the faculty of medicine and dentistry at the University of Alberta.    

Upcoming events for Métis Week:

Nov. 14 – Edmonton Métis Dancers will be performing at 6:00 p.m. in the Cargill Theatre in the Jeanne and Peter Lougheed Performing Arts Centre. Free public performance – everyone welcome!

Nov. 15 – Lunch and Learn with Dr. Kisha Supernant “Reconciling the Past for the Future: Unsettling Métis as Mixed in the Archeological Record”. If students register with the Alumni Office, you will get a free lunch of hamburger soup and bannock!

  • Hamburger soup and bannock for lunch in the Cafeteria

Nov. 16 – Bannock and Jam in the Forum and Métis Crafts from 11:30 – 1 p.m.


Information on Breast Cancer a Key Part of Awareness Campaigns


Last week, Augustana held an annual awareness campaign about breast cancer. To provide people with more information about this common cancer, Nurse Navigator Alysa Bartman is happy to share some interesting points about the importance of having this campaign.

What is breast cancer?

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women. Like other types of cancer, breast cancer begins when there is an abnormal cell growth in the breast. This proliferation of the cells may cause lumps or masses called tumors. A non-cancerous tumor is often known as benign, while a cancerous one is called malignant. Breast cancer is usually not life-threatening.

How many types of breast cancer exist?

Scientists divide breast cancer into two categories, non-invasive and invasive. Breast cancer starts in the cells that line the milk ducts (ductal carcinoma), although some starts in the cells that line the lobule (lobular carcinoma). This primary cancer is called “carcinoma in situ’, which means that the cancer cells are only in the layer of cells they begin in and have not spread to surrounding tissues. Invasive breast cancer occurs when the ductal or lobular carcinoma has affected other body parts.

Crishia Dela Paz/The Dagligtale
Members from the women’s volleyball team held their annual bake sale Oct. 10 to help raise money and awareness for breast cancer as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Crishia Dela Paz/The Dagligtale

What are the causes of breast cancer?

According to Alberta Health Services, a significant factor for developing breast cancer is gender. Women are more likely to have breast cancer than men, especially when they get older. Although people may think that having a family member with breast cancer increases the risk of diagnosis, 80% of women with breast cancer have no family history. Women who previously had cancer in one breast might also develop cancer in the other breast. The cumulative risks multiply in those who use alcohol or are obese after menopause. Those who have menstrual history, long-term hormone replacement therapy (HRT), and reproductive history can experience breast cancer.

Are there some early symptoms to notice?

Breast cancer in the early stage may be difficult to detect even with a mammography, so be aware of the small changes in your breast. A lump in the breast or armpit, nipple discharge, red swollen breast, dimpling or thickening of the breast skin might be signs of breast cancer.

“Prevention is better than cure”

Treatments of breast cancer depend on the different types and stages. These treatments are surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy. However, a healthy lifestyle is undoubtedly a better approach. By being physically active, limiting the use of addictive substances, and managing weight, everybody can reduce the risk of having breast cancer. A good suggestion is having a Mediterranean diet because it contains fish and healthy vegetables such as legumes. For those who use combined estrogen-progestin HRT, speaking with a health care provider is recommended.

What is special about this campaign?

This campaign is crucial in helping people develop a better understanding of breast cancer, its causes and treatments, and what to expect if they realize that something is going on with their bodies. The campaign also encourages young adults to take care of themselves. By having a healthy diet, doing more exercise, and staying away from alcohol, everyone can lessen their risks of breast cancer.


Cannabis Legislation Bringing Changes to Augustana


Executive Director of Student Life, Randal Nickel, was interviewed earlier last week about the upcoming laws and campus rules that are being implemented around cannabis, and how students, staff, and faculty will shape the revision of the substances policy in January 2019.

Nickel would like you, dear readers, to know that if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or any kind of input about cannabis on campus, you can email or set up a meeting with him to discuss it further.  

What are the policies on cannabis on campus and in Camrose?

As we mentioned in the email, October 17 was legalization day in Canada. We thought that at Augustana it would make sense to take a look at substances as a whole, not just at cannabis.

The cannabis bylaw in Camrose has become part of the smoking bylaw. So recreational and medical consumption of cannabis will be allowed typically where smoking is allowed. Except where there are some guidelines around no smoking or baking or usage a certain number of metres around schools, parks, that sort of thing.

On campus, because we want to include it with looking at what our tobacco and alcohol policy is, what we’re doing right now is we’re getting feedback from students, staff and faculty, about what everyone would like to see the campus policies be. Until then, there will be no recreational usage on campus allowed. We anticipate that process would be done in the fall, hopefully with the implementation of a new policy, a substance use framework policy, in early 2019.

How will students be able to find out about the bylaws and process on campus?

Partly through your article, and then there’s web pages that is for UAlberta as a whole. It differentiates and identifies what the policies and procedures are on each campus. We will align ourselves with those policies and the bylaws in Camrose, We will be putting the information out via the Students Association as well. Next week there’s also a range of activities, information displays. We’ll also go out on the TV screens, and the weekly newsletter too. Students Associates will have some social media presence as well.

What kind of supports will you have in place if someone wants to get help?

I think there would be access to community based support, as well as on campus. Primarily through the nurse navigator role, who has access to medical and non-medical supports. There are local addictions counselors that we can connect people too, as well as separate HR policies that will be developed across UAlberta. They’re in development right now, but right now the focus is on campus, primarily around students.

How will students be informed about how they should care for themselves while doing cannabis ? For example, how to come down from a bad trip.

There are some low-risk cannabis usage guidelines through Alberta health services that we will be disseminating, having online, as well as other kinds of copies in those info displays this week and beyond. Just to ensure that that will be available, I assume we’ll be putting them on the health and wellness section of our webpages, and also accessible through our Nurse Navigator, as well as through residence services, Students’ Association, offices, that sort of thing. Just to make sure that it’s widely visible.

How will this policy for all substances be enforced?

What we will do, with the alcohol as well, we’re trying to reduce instances where student staff have to patrol enforce these laws, rules, with their peers. UAPS (University of Alberta Protective Services) does play a role in enforcing these policies and procedure when they’re finalized on campus, but we also hope that through the public health, through the support for everyone who wants to use for whatever reason, or doesn’t want to use for whatever reason, that will limit the amount of issues that are brought up where we would need to enforce these kinds of rules.

We’ll also be asking for student, staff, and faculty input, probably starting next week as well with the google form. It is anonymous, that everyone can put around what are their thoughts, concerns, suggestions, about what the policies could look like for cannabis, alcohol, and tobacco. Some might use cannabis, and not want to use tobacco, and vice versa.

What changes will come into effect in January, with the policies regarding alcohol and cannabis will be reviewed and revised?

I definitely don’t want to predetermine the outcome, because we want to take the feedback that we get seriously. I think the only predetermination is that it includes that sort of health and wellness focus, and that services are available. So we want to make sure that whatever that policy looks like, that will be the foundation of it. On the specifics, i think we will explore what the feedback is, and then connect it with those principles of health and wellness, and support available harm reduction for people Then make decisions based on that feedback on what makes the most sense for the campus, and then implement it, because it’s all new. Particularly when it comes to cannabis. If there are changes to the alcohol policy, that will be new as well. Chances are, we won’t get it 100% right. We want to be able to implement, find ways to address issues, shortcoming, or shortfalls. Maybe 2019, the entire year, we can sort of assess where things are at, because that’s when edibles will become legalized as well. By the end of 2019, we’ll hopefully have policies and procedures in place that will work.

Is there anything you want the student body, the faculty, or the staff to know about the policies, or anything regarding the legalization of cannabis?

Well, I’ve already been quite repetitive, I think, in my answers regarding that health and safety and reduced stigma. I think really focusing on, you know, being non-judgemental as people use or don’t use for a variety of reasons. We want to make sure that that’s the focus. We want to work together to develop something that will work for our campus, and keep people safe and healthy, and able to access support if necessary, and focus on the mission of our organization: have a great student experience in and outside the classroom.

Brian Goldman’s Perspective on the Importance of Kindness to be Shared in a Visit to the Camrose Public Library


Dr. Brian Goldman will be visiting the Camrose Public LIbrary this November to discuss his new book, The Power of Kindness: Why Empathy Is Essential in Everyday Life.

Goldman is an emergency physician, author, public speaker, as well as a radio host. His book, The Power of Kindness focuses on the search of the nature and nurture of empathy and kindness through his own personal search for the natural empathy he had as a child but lost as an ER physician. He has traveled around the world to meet the kindest people on the planet to find out why they are the way they are.

“I was accused of unkindness by the husband and children of a patient I saw in the ER.  I did my clinical job competently but was too self-preoccupied by my own stress and time pressure to empathize with them. It was only through the death of my father that I realized what they were going through as concerned family members.”

Unlike Goldman’s other works, The Power of Kindness spends no time at the hospital. He learned that he could leave his comfort zone and write a book about that which he knew didn’t know much about. “I learned that shame about medical errors acts as a brake on my riskiest impulses. I learned that my personality makes me well suited as an ER physician and the host of a radio show.”

Goldman is visiting the Camrose Public Library at 7:00 p.m.  Nov. 2 to further discuss his book and answer any questions.

“I have found it very rewarding to speak to audiences about The Power of Kindness because they bring many questions about the nature of human connection and about existence.” Goldman says to show authors like himself support, people can read his books, ask questions, and engage with him about their opinions.  “I hope you like the book and feel moved to share stories with me.”

Books will be available to for purchase for $30.