Racist designation on provincial health cards removed following complaints

Saskatchewan was long one of the only provinces in Canada that held a special distinction on provincial health cards for indigenous people.

The letter “R” on provincial health cards was specifically created by the government to distinguish persons claiming indigenous status from those not. After a call to action by Saskatoon MLA and opposition critic for metis and indigenous relations Betty Nippi-Albright to examine the use of the letter on health cards – and threats of human rights complaints from constituents – the distinction was removed.

“They had to do this,” says Albright. “More first nations people were inquiring about filing human rights complaints against the Saskatchewan Party. I have been inundated with first nation people asking about the process to filing a human rights complaints because of this distinction.

Albright says the removal of the letter from cards is a start – but that the government still has many racist policies in place against indigenous people that need to be examined.

“We need to address racism in this province. It starts with these racist practices. I am delighted that the “R” is finally coming off these cards so first nations people are not discriminated against when they access health services.”

Some feel that the move may be a bit of a hollow “political strategy” on the part of the Saskatchewan Party to save face during trying political times.

Evan Whitestar is an indigenous community leader within the province and he feels there is still a long way to go.

“I still need to show my status card when seeking health care in other provinces. I’m still governed by the Indian act.” says Whitestar, “We are the only population in the world that is forced to carry cards to identify who we are. This is for everyone who isn’t first nations. This is so they feel better.”

If you would like to have the “R” removed from your health card – you can do so via the province’s E-Health website.




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