The struggle for health justice for refugees and migrants is intimately connected to the struggle for health justice for indigenous peoples in Canada. There is a direct relationship between the ongoing colonization of indigenous peoples/territories and Canadian policy toward refugees, migrants and all other immigrants. In fact, when it was founded in 1917 Citizenship and Immigration Canada was actually called the "Department of Immigration and Colonization." Additionally, many refugees and migrants are themselves indigenous people who have been forced away from their homes by historical events and economic situations that Canadian corporations and the Canadian government have played a direct role in creating.
This week the Health Council of Canada released a report called Empathy, dignity, and respect: Creating cultural safety for Aboriginal people in urban health care. The report has received some press coverage because it addresses the fact that indigenous people in Canada face very serious barriers to medical care, sometimes including explicitly racist treatment by medical staff. Sanctuary Health encourages all healthcare workers to become champions of transformative change in the medical system by challenging and resisting racism in any form. It is impossible to be neutral-we either oppose racism in our medical system or participate in sustaining it. Indifference and injustice have the same relationship as oxygen and fire. Let's take a stand for health justice and participate in positively shaping the cultures of our workplaces. As we begin to listen to the voices of refugees, migrants and indigenous communities, and as we begin to find our own voices, we begin to find the power to change our world!