By Craig and Marc Kielburger
When Anne visited a Vancouver Island hospital for a routine pregnancy check-up, a nurse read in her medical record that she was Métis, and saw a notation from years before about a child welfare issue, long since resolved. The nurse immediately called in child welfare. Anne's routine hospital visit turned into a Kafkaesque drama.
Jane and Anne are made-up names, but their stories are real. They are among those gathered by Sara Wolfe, a registered midwife in Toronto, and Dr. Don Wilson, who practices obstetrics and gynaecology in Comox, B.C. and works with First Nations people from across Vancouver Island. Both Wolfe and Wilson are members of Canada's First Nations, and they have helped the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) update guidelines for providing culturally sensitive health care services for aboriginal women.
Wolfe and Wilson have seen many such examples of the unfair stereotypes and cultural misunderstandings that aboriginal women all too often face in Canada's health care system. Most Canadians walking into a hospital or doctor's office would never face what Jane and Anne did.
For more on the harm of Native stereotyping, see Native Is Prejudiced Against Natives and Mithlo's TEDx Talk on Stereotypes.