Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing systemic racism in healthcare

Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing systemic racism in healthcare

The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) is pleased to release a follow-up report on the forum. This report summarizes the forum as well as key themes discussed and lists the NAFC’s recommendations to advance work in improving health care outcomes and addressing racism in healthcare for urban Indigenous people. 

The full report can be read here: Urban Indigenous Forum: Addressing Systemic Racism in Healthcare (PDF, 728 KB).


On November 6 2020, the NAFC hosted an online forum on systemic racism in healthcare. Our goal with this forum was to honour urban Indigenous experiences in accessing our right to healthcare as well as the experiences of those who transport between on-reserve and northern communities to urban settings.

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties in posting the video of the forum, however, you can listen to the audio here

This forum was a crucial first-step in highlighting the important work that needs to be done in order to ensure Indigenous people can access their right to healthcare with dignity and respect, however, our work does not end here.  It is our view that an Indigenous, community-informed process is essential in our path forward as we work to create and provide a report to provincial and federal governments regarding our recommendations. 

During the forum, we discussed:
  • the action that is currently happening on the ground in our communities
  • the role of urban Indigenous service providers in healthcare
  • explore Indigenous-led healthcare systems in place
This discussion will also seek to provide recommendations for moving forward to ensure that Indigenous peoples are able to access healthcare services with dignity, without fear and, free from discrimination.
  • Senator Yvonne Boyer – Senator, Senate of Canada; former Associate Director for the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa; former Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health and Wellness at Brandon University
  • Jennifer Brazeau – Executive Director, Centre d'amitié autochtone de Lanaudiére
  • Édith Cloutier – Executive Director, Centre d'amitié autochtone de Val d'or
  • Dr. Alika Lafontaine – Physician, Alberta Health Services; Associate Clinical Professor, Lecturer, University of Alberta
  • Dr. Janet Smylie – Director of Well Living House, Research Scientist at St. Michael's Hospital, Physician, Professor at University of Toronto
  • Moderated by Jocelyn Formsma – Executive Director, The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC)
On September 28, 2020, Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman and mother of seven died in Centre hospitalier de Lanaudiere, in Joliette, Quebec. The horrendous and degrading moments before Joyce Echaquan’s death were captured by her via Facebook Live. These harrowing moments called the world to bear witness to the deplorable racism, abuse and inhumane treatment Ms. Echaquan was subjected to prior to her death, all at the hands of healthcare workers entrusted and sworn to care for her.
This tragedy has led to raw outrage, grief and pain for Ms. Echaquan’s family and friends, as well as hundreds of Indigenous communities nationwide. Regrettably, the racism Ms. Echaquan was subjected to is a common reality for many Indigenous persons accessing their right to healthcare.