Listuguj mother shocked by 'Greetings, Native Savages' sticker
Toddler from Listuguj First Nation given racist sticker by doctor at Campbellton Regional Hospital
Raquel Barnaby of Listuguj First Nation says she has never experienced anything like what happened to her recently at the Campbellton Regional Hospital.
Barnaby, 31, was at the hospital with her youngest child, an 18-month old girl who was suffering from croup. Barnaby said at the end of the visit, the doctor on call handed her daughter a sticker that said, 'Greetings, Native Savages.'
She said she put the sticker in her pocket and didn't look at it until later when she was back at home. She said what she saw left her in disbelief with a number of questions.
Barnaby said she was at the IWK in Halifax with her daughter from October to January of this year "and nothing like this was given out."
She took a photo of the sticker and posted it on social media to get feedback from her community. Many people posted angry comments, or stories of their own encounters with racism.
The incident prompted Scott Martin, chief of the Listuguj First Nation, to send a letter to Gilles Lanteigne, president and CEO of Vitalité Health Network, requesting a meeting about this and other incidents, including allegations of discrimination and unprofessional behaviour.
Martin says the issue is more widespread than just a sticker slogan.
"It's a big problem for sure. I mean, for a hospital to do something like that ... what kind of message does it send to the surrounding area? Because of the fact that it's not just in Campbellton, it's across Canada where aboriginals are being treated like this," said Martin.
On Thursday, Lanteigne said he has spoken with the chief and is prepared to meet, but no date had yet been set.
"The physician did call the mum, and the head nurse did call the mum twice, to explain that unfortunately we had bought these stickers without realizing what was really written on them and that it could be insulting," he said.
"We apologized, we even called the company. We retrieved all these stickers from all our sites," Lanteigne said, pointing out these stickers have been given out, in error, in other parts of the country.
When asked if he believes there is a problem with racism and discrimination at the Campbellton hospital, Lanteigne said he believes the situation at the hospital "is considerably improved."
Debbie Dedam-Montour, an anti-racism co-ordinator at Listuguj, says there have been other incidents.
"Some of it is not being given proper medications because they're assuming you're a drug addict as soon as you go in there. Some people are even being told, you know, you're not getting any prescriptions or any meds from us ... any painkillers, so we are having issues," she said.
Lanteigne said he has asked the Listuguj chief for more information about incidents such as the one referenced by Dedam-Montour and has promised to look into the matter.
Raquel Barnaby said she decided to speak about the sticker because she wanted to provide a good example to her children, that when something is wrong, it's important to speak up.
"I made sure that it was known that this wasn't right, and I want her to be able to stand up when she feels that things aren't right, to stand up and ... do something about it."