The discovery of a mass grave containing the remains of 215 children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C., has produced a wave of shock, anger, and sadness that continues to wash over the country. Until it leads to concrete action and change, we cannot allow this wave to recede.
As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the legacy of colonialism in Canada is pervasive. Systemic racism continues to plague our society and our institutions. We can and we must do more to address its devastating impacts. The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) supports an accelerated response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
Residential schools are not the only public institutions in Canada to have mistreated and abused Indigenous Peoples. The recent coroner’s inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan is a painful reminder of the long shadow of systemic racism.
The CMA is committed to reconciliation with all First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples and to identifying and confronting systemic racism and structural inequities within our health care system and medical community. An important step towards this commitment is understanding the experiences of Indigenous Peoples within health care. The CMA is supporting the development of a film series that explores the impact of colonialism and systemic racism in health care; one of many actions needed to achieve positive change.
The devastating loss of 215 children must lead to lasting change. The CMA encourages everyone to learn about the legacy of residential schools and reflect on what actions each of us and our institutions can take towards reconciliation.
Dr. Ann Collins
President, Canadian Medical Association