Alberta Health Services fires two employees over Indigenous racial slur - APTN NewsAPTN News

Alberta Health Services fires two employees over Indigenous racial slur

 The Canadian Press

The organization that delivers health programs for the Alberta government has fired two employees over a racial slur made against an Indigenous educator.

Last week Alberta Health Services apologized for a text message that was sent between two workers that referred to a member of the Kainai Board of Education as a “rabid squaw.”

Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of AHS, said Monday that two employees have been terminated effective immediately.

“This incident is not representative of who AHS is or what AHS stands for,” Yiu said in a release.

“All AHS employees are expected to adhere to our Code of Conduct, which includes treating all people with dignity and fairness.”

The slur was accidentally sent to an employee of the Kainai Board of Education, which provides services for the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta.

Last Friday Annette Bruisedhead, deputy superintendent of the board, said the AHS employee later apologized.

Bruisedhead called the comment a severe act of discrimination and racism that would not be tolerated.

At the time Ramona Big Head, the principal of the middle school on the reserve, said she was the employee being referred to in the text.

She said the AHS official and many others “share the same dark, racist thoughts.”

A spokeswoman for the chief and council said the incident has hurt many people.

Yiu said no further information about the terminations or the fired employees would be released.

“AHS is committed to advancing the process of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and communities, and we will move forward from this incident together with our Indigenous communities and all Albertans.”


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14 Responses to “Alberta Health Services fires two employees over Indigenous racial slur”

    Darlene June 27, 2017 at 4:51 am #


    Audrey June 27, 2017 at 5:35 am #

    I am beyond Awe on how this can still happen in this day and age, First these Employees should publicly apologize to the lady they were slandering.
    Second if this is still an ongoing issue then Address it Publicly.
    I am First Nations and in my hometown we still are called Drunken Indians, when they clearly are the ones who visit bars on a regular.
    I keep asking the Creator why and when will people learn how to treat other people with Respect, and Dignity. Please stop the Racial Profiling you never know maybe your child will marry an Indegenous person wouldn’t that make you happy. Karma Karma Karma

      Ree July 6, 2017 at 11:21 am #

      Yesss!!! And have many beautiful brown babies to call grandchildren 🙂 karma, karma, karma

    AlbertaGirl June 27, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    I am not First Nations, but I can tell you all that I am beyond disgusted that someone would say or do something like this.
    I’ve never been racist; I’ve always been confused as to how anyone can think they are better than someone else based on the colour of their skin, or based on their heritage. It just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s actually put me at extreme odds with an elderly family member of mine, because she does feel this way. My child has a mixed ethnic background, a paternal great-grandfather was Cree, and I had asked this family member to please stop making snide comments because it is a) wrong, and b) hurtful to my child & her dad… It has made it so I can’t spend much time with her anymore, because when she makes a comment like that, it directly hurts my child, let alone anyone else who might hear her. It’s embarrassing to boot. I think that, in the last year, with Trump being elected in the USA, it has opened the door to people acting this way… it has just totally eliminated so much progress that has been made in the last 30 years for equality in general.
    I have always treated ALL people I meet up with with dignity & respect, no matter what their ethnicity is. I’m sorry that First Nations Peoples are being treated badly. It’s deplorable & disgusting that anyone is (clearly) looking down their noses at you. I think that the world could learn a whole lot from the First Nations, and it’s an opportunity that is being missed due to people that are closed-minded.

    Fabian June 28, 2017 at 1:43 pm #


      Todd June 30, 2017 at 12:23 am #

      That’s 100% slander. You should be ashamed of yourself for thinking such lies.

      In fact, your racist for saying such a lie.

    Jenn June 28, 2017 at 6:10 pm #

    Hey! APTN! Have a look at the Town of Stienbach, MB. My sisters have lived there all their lives and have dealt with racism the whole time, but was always, shall we say, subliminal? But lately things seems to be getting more blatant, not that subliminal racism is any better…here’s a text she sent me:

    Here’s a story for ya….. I went to SuperStore this evening to get a few things with my eldest granddaughter. We paid our stuff at self checkout. The machine I was using was acting up, cashier called it. I paid then grab bags and go to my vehicle, as I was nearing , this East Indian woman tells me, she needs me to go back inside with my stuff as I was suspected of having unpaid merchandise. I looked at her, “Are you serious?” I said, “Of course I paid!! This is absurd!” She must have seen that I didn’t believe her, she said she is security and she needs me to come back in, it is procedure. She did not have a badge. I went in and said to then, This is racial profiling!” The second time I insisted that I was being racially discriminated against. I said, I don’t friggen steal my food!” She said “Maam, that is enough!” being bitchy. They checked over and over, and both agreed it was paid. I say I have lived here all my life! Then as I was leaving two cops pulled up and walked into “stupid store”.

    So they called the cops BEFORE they even had confirmation that a theft had taken place!! If that is not racial profiling, idk what is! And the thing about it is, they would just think “oh well, they must have discarded it” and would never admit that they were wrong in anyway. Let alone provide an apology of any sort!

    This is a systemic occurrence throughout not only Manitoba, but Canada. Yet, without these lands that First Nations were forced to leave, Superstore wouldn’t have any food to sell since it was all grown on our land, and this woman wouldn’t have a damn job!!

    Shushup June 28, 2017 at 7:26 pm #

    But this was done in private message? Not sure the complete context of it all and how it got found out, but people need to start minding their business when it comes to private message between two people.

      Phelepio32 June 30, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

      I think you need to reread the article over again. And for one anyone dont matter what race they are should not be racist against anyone even in private messages.

      D. Barkman June 30, 2017 at 7:17 pm #

      The “context of it all” is that the person using the racist terms sent the (so-called) “private message” directly to the person about whom she was making the racist comment. So whose business was it?

    Lenora Many Fingers June 29, 2017 at 2:36 am #

    Anyone interested in understanding more the First Nation people come join us at the Kainai Multi-Purpose Building in Standoff Alberta on July 5, 2017 it’s an all day workshop/event. 9am-4pm. It’s free & lunch will be free also & door prizes. This should help non- natives understand us natives better in one way or another. It also will bring awareness to Our Missing, murdered Indigenous Women. Come see how Welcoming us Kainai (Blood) People are. Check out our website for the poster. It should be up tomorrow.

    Clifford Cardinal, MPH June 30, 2017 at 4:06 pm #

    I have seen the efforts by descendants of early Settlers change after their White Daughters marries one of our Indigenous Men/Warriors. However, its not all rosy yet or having BBQ’s with all our White Neighbours. Yea, I see Racial profiling, its here to stay. Police single us out, they somehow know Rez Vehicles, in a Regular Checkstop, 8 of 10 were Indigenous as there was a Pow wow in E-Town. The ten-20 hour waits in Emerg. are still in effect, the embarrassing waits in Restaurants, the Grading and Acceptances in Med Schools are still decided upon by a few Elderly Faculty Councils, and the lateral violence in the mainstream workplace if you are the Indigenous Staff. You are the only Brown Face other than Immigrants, but its still very Racist. I left because it was becoming not too subtle. But not Canada 150 yet, maybe Can. 200.


    ” All, I can say.. I am not shocked at people’s attitude & behaviour! I have lived in the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada since leaving Cranberry Portage, Manitoba in 1971. I have resided on Turtle Island since 1954. I saw the riots on T. V. in the 60’s, 70’s and I remember asking mom, why? I always questioned everything however, I received no straight answer. I remember feeling such sadness. I saw and felt the hatefulness as it wormed its way through my heart, pores, veins and oozed out like pus onto the floor of my home. I had to take care of the intoxicated people in my life because I was an Injun. People would say, Freida, you take so and so home because she / he are drunk. If someone was really out of it. It was my job to deal with the drunks. People would drop off drunks at my place. My baby girl saw a grown man choke her momma on many occasions. How freaken lucky was I? Alcoholism knows no colour. I tried my best to shield my babies from the harsh urban reality until it devoured me. Oh, I knew my head was filled with the Greek Legends / Myths/ /Dances / Music, Scottish or Irish folklore.Of course, the Little People stories from many different Clans / Tribes. I had to use my imagination when we had the radio to listen to plus the opera,etc. I was so very lucky to be read to or be told scarey stories on spooky nights which made my fear of the night creatures increase with each new nightmare. I literally was scared shitless or I was called a night owl I could not sleep and I always slept with one eye open. I slept with my eyes open. I always talked to things I could only see. It could have been worse if I lived on the the Indian Reservation or with certain family members that were loud mouthed. I don’t ever remember visiting my mother’s side of the family only granny / nookum Christina Ettawaycappo Osborne Keeper side. Daddy did not ever, acknowledge the Wilson side of my huge extended family. We never, went there to visit. My siblings were not allowed to visit. I was not allowed to mention any of the other side of the family. The Historian of the Keeper family was a funny person. She knew everyone however, never, ever, cross her. She was my biggest critic. My family was extremely strict. Children were to be seen and not heard. I always questioned authority figures. I was a spoiled rotten child. I did not listen to my mommy or heed any warnings from my elders. I did whatever, I pleased. People Are Strange. I always wondered why we were so weird.”

    Scott sands July 10, 2017 at 1:33 pm #

    “Our Indigenous communities and people” … lol … that just makes me cringeOnly this d laugh disgustedly when you hear these Pink-one’s say ‘ our Native people” or “our aboriginal ” or in the not so distance past “our indians” …. the nerve and audacity of these people ceases to amaze me – seriously. I just wish one of these times that a Native person being interviewed on the air or whatever the case says ” our white people ” – GARRANTEED – they start whinging about it immediately. This “incident ” justifies my thinking exactly – these people are truly cowards in every meaning of the word – they never dare make those ignorant remarks in front of an Indigenous person …only in the Confines of a dark little room or there personal little phones, lime chumps. Only this time they gave credence to my theory of being backwards and cowardly.