An official with the Cree Women’s Association says that a language barrier between her people and government health services means that people may not be making the right choices for themselves.
“The patients are not well informed and oftentimes that’s due to a language barrier,” said Linda Schecapio. “And then that’s when that lack of communication comes in, and not really provide appropriate services.”
Along with the Cree Women’s Association, representatives of the Innu Nation testified at the public inquiry in Val d’Or which is examining the relationship between some government public services and Indigenous peoples.
Schecapio said the Cree don’t expect services in their own language, but would like to get health services in their second language, English.
The association has a few recommendations to get there including mandatory Indigenous cultural training for service providers, recognition of her people in Quebec’s civil code, and full participation in implementing these recommendations.
“I’m not going to say that I trust them I’m going to trust them, for them to do that,” she said. “It’s going to require all of us to do it together and it’s a collective action that needs to be respected and that relationship that needs to be…to rebuild that trust again.”
Nadine Vollant is an Innu youth protection worker in Uashat mak Maliotenam First Nation.
A large part of her testimony was spent advocating for parents in danger of losing their child.
“One thing needs to be understood, parents, First Nations parents, are not the kind of parents who can defend themselves,” she said. “We [Youth Protection] avoid mentioning to them the importance of being represented by a lawyer, or if they are in disagreement with the measures, to contest them.”
The day ended with the words of Innu lawyer Armand MacKenzie.
He focussed on the over-incarceration of First Nations people.
“Because we are not considering at all their laws traditions, practices, their social and economic conditions, their traditional laws, customs, practices,” he said.
“These are considerations about why we are facing systemic discrimination in the Quebec justice system.”
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