Program aims to show Canadian doctors the biases Indigenous women face

Focus is on self analysis and learning about traditional healing, residential schools, 60s Scoop

Dr. Naana Jumah, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre and assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Handout

An online training program is aiming to educate health-care professionals about biases Indigenous women may experience as highlighted by allegations of recent coerced sterilizations.

Dr. Naana Jumah, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Thunder Bay and assistant professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, says the idea came in 2011 when she was doing her residency.

“It originally started as a project to understand what residents in obstetrics and gynecology knew about Indigenous women’s health and … I also asked program directors across Canada what resources they had and what expertise they had to provide a curriculum,” Jumah says.

“Residents really didn’t have an understanding, but they were interested. And program directors wanted to provide a curriculum, but they didn’t have the resources, the know-how and the contacts in the community to do that.”

The program, which starts Tuesday, incorporates feedback from 11 Indigenous women’s organizations from across Canada. Jumah also worked with Dr. Lisa Richardson, a strategic adviser in Indigenous Health at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine. They led a research team of mostly Indigenous women to develop the curriculum.

“It asks the person who is taking it to really critically look at themselves and understand who they are and their biases,” says Jumah.

It also includes information on traditional healing and Indigenous history such as residential schools and the ’60s Scoop.

Jumah says she hopes the training can also be used in areas such as law.

“These women opened my eyes to the fact that this isn’t a journey about medicine or medical practice,” Jumah says. “It’s really about exploring our relationships with each other as Canadians and how we got to be in the situation that we’re in today.”

Richardson, who is Indigenous, says major breaches continue today in Indigenous women’s health.

In December, the United Nations committee against torture demanded Canada stop forced or coerced sterilization of Indigenous women and girls. The House of Commons health committee has also heard of Indigenous women alleging they were coerced into sterilization after childbirth. A class-action lawsuit alleges one woman believed she had no choice but to sign a consent form moments after receiving an epidural at a Saskatchewan hospital in 2018.

READ MORE: Missing women’s inquiry leaders reconcile Canada Day with ‘genocide’ finding

“The program isn’t specifically about forced sterilization, but of course the underpinning of understanding trauma and why trauma-informed care is important,” Richardson said.

“Going into a hospital environment can be traumatic, particularly if you are hearing ongoing stories from your auntie, your sister, your mother or your friends who continue to experience this violence.”

Daniela Germano, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ballenas Whalers football players honoured after stellar high school season

Chomolok, Rykers earn most valuable player accolades

‘Elizabeth Little Waterfront Park’ proposed in Qualicum Beach

It was first announced in 2018 that St. Andrews Lodge would be turned into a public space

RDN budget talks to include public consultation results

Director not impress with level of engagement

Three celebrations this summer in Parksville for city’s big 75th birthday bash

Beach party and street festival to be added to city’s roster of activities

Officials reaching out to those in contact with Canada’s first coronavirus patient

The illness has sickened at least 1,975 people and killed 56 in China

Kobe Bryant killed in California helicopter crash: reports

NBA star was reportedly in his private helicopter at the time of the crash

Investigation launched after six dead puppies dumped in Richmond hotel parking lot

RAPS reminds people they can always give up puppies they can’t take care of

B.C. VIEWS: New coronavirus outbreak an important reminder

Walking the line between cautious and alarmist

‘My heart is going to bleed’: Bodies brought back to Canada following Iran plane crash

Remains of Sahar Haghjoo, 37, and her eight-year-old daughter, Elsa Jadidi, were identified last weekend

People knowingly take fentanyl so make policy changes to reduce harm: B.C. study

Dr. Jane Buxton, an epidemiologist at the centre, says drug users need more resources,

Risk of coronavirus low in B.C. as first case emerges in Toronto: officials

There have been no confirmed cases of the virus in B.C.

‘Presumptive case’ of coronavirus in Canada confirmed by Ontario doctors

Man in his 50s felt ill on his return to Canada from Wuhan, China

Most Read