We Must Do Better

Jun 24, 2021
Author: 
Drs. Gillian Hawker and Umberin Najeeb

Sage leavesSage is one of the four sacred medicines for many First Nations

Less than a month after the remains of 215 Indigenous children were found in an unmarked grave at a former residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory, the discovery of 751 graves at the site of a former Marieval Indian Residential School in The Cowessess First Nation, Saskatchewan, is a devastating reminder of Canada’s actions.

We, in the Department of Medicine, are deeply saddened and continue to acknowledge the ongoing tragic and traumatic treatment of the Indigenous people. We remain committed to education and action that will move us towards reconciliation.

Statement released on June 8, 2021

In the midst of a year of challenges, we are called upon once again to respond to an unmeasurable tragedy. The discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children found at a former residential school in Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc territory has again reminded us that we have a long way to go. This heartbreaking news came in the context of the inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan and release of the national action plan into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-Spirit people (MMIWG2S) last week. We in the Department of Medicine feel compelled to add our voice in acknowledging this tragic discovery and the traumatic implications for the Indigenous peoples who have suffered at the hands of settlers for generations and continue to do so today.

The Department of Medicine recognizes our responsibility as academic leaders to continue to educate ourselves on Canada's unjust treatment of Indigenous peoples to inform our future actions. Lets renew our commitment to uphold the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Many of our faculty have been reaching out to request access to learning resources. We have collated key resources here to enable your ongoing learning and understanding of cultural safety and how to try to create safe spaces for our learners, peers and patients. We hope each of our non-Indigenous members will take the time to review them and join us in our commitment to education and action so that we can move forward towards reconciliation.

Umberin Najeeb, Faculty Lead – Equity, Department of Medicine
Gillian Hawker, Sir John and Lady Eaton Professor and Chair of Medicine