On October 16th the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec heard from Natasia Mukash, who spoke about her experiences at the Val-d’Or hospital in 2016. Ms Mukash, who lives in a fly-in community in Northern Quebec, was medevacked to the Val-d’Or hospital following complications from a miscarriage she went through ten days earlier. She was told before leaving that she may need surgery.
Though she had not yet seen a doctor, around midnight a nurse told her that she was being sent home and should get a taxi to a hotel for the night. Mukash refused and was eventually moved to another room and connected to an IV. Through the evening she was told that there had been a misunderstanding, but was never told what that misunderstanding was.
While waiting to see a doctor she overheard nurses mocking her in French, which she understood. At some point in the early morning she asked for directions to a bathroom and was sent to one where someone had vomited. She asked where she could find another one and was sent out to another section of the hospital, where a member of hospital staff saw her and told her she should not be out in her condition and that she would bring something to her bed.
In the hearing she explains that following these events she became depressed and experienced an identity crisis as she tried to understand the treatment she had received. However, she was inspired to speak up by the hope that her daughters would be able to access medical care without experiencing discrimination.
This is the first time the inquiry has recognized a case of discrimination since hearings began on June 5th of 2017. The inquiry, which was formed in response to allegations of abuse by police towards indigenous women in Val-d’Or, will cover the last 15 years and will make recommendations to eliminate discrimination in the delivery of public services to indigenous people living in Quebec.
Anyone interested in sharing information with the Commission or staying up to date with its work can visit their website here.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.