Alberta Health Services (AHS) Must Uphold its Diversity and Inclusion Policy.

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Montreal, July 09, 2024— The Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) condemns Alberta Health Services (AHS) for displaying both anti-Palestinian and anti-Indigenous racism within its practices. According to a recent reporting by Jeremy Appel in The Orchard, AHS officials have labeled calls for solidarity with Palestine as overly political, discriminatory, and violent, thereby ignoring the impact of genocide on Palestinian healthcare systems. Several such incidents were used to silence employees within the AHS who wished to express solidarity with Palestinians under Israeli occupation. Simultaneously, Appel’s article highlighted reports of a disturbing pattern of anti-Indigenous racism in Alberta, evident in failure to offer equitable services to First Nations patients. This systemic bias highlights a broader issue of institutional racism that undermines the health and dignity of colonized and Indigenous peoples, asserting a settler colonial structure that dehumanizes and marginalizes based on ethnicity and political convenience.

"While some healthcare workers perpetuate discrimination against Indigenous patients without facing consequences, those who express solidarity with Palestine face severe repercussions," says Jamila Ewais, Lead Researcher at ARPCF. This unequal treatment becomes more evident when noting that employees advocating for Ukrainian rights against the Russian invasion bypass scrutiny, whereas those supporting Palestinian causes are subjected to punitive measures, including the freezing of their institutional rights and services. This selective enforcement of policies and medical practices starkly illustrates the systemic racism within the AHS.

The discrimination within the AHS starkly contrasts with its publicly professed commitment to anti-racism. According to AHS's Anti-Racism Position Statement, the organization aims to combat racism and discrimination and promote fairness and equality. However, their selective silence and punitive measures against those advocating for Palestinian rights or acknowledging Indigenous injustices reveal a hypocrisy that undermines their institutional integrity and the very principles they claim to uphold. This erasure of the human rights of Palestinians and Indigenous peoples is not new, as explained by the Arab Canadian Lawyers Association's (ACLA) definition of APR and by, Canada Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), and Canada’s efforts to weaken the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The ARPCF urges Alberta Health Services to realign its practices with its stated anti-racism goals. AHS must recognize the rights and humanity of all, including Palestinians and Indigenous peoples, by fostering an environment where the voices of marginalized communities are heard and respected, not suppressed. AHS should also recognize APR in its diversity and inclusion policy, and protect the rights of its own employees as well, and hold training for its employees on anti-indigenous racism.

About the ARPCF – The mandate of the Anti-Racism Program of the CJPME Foundation (ARPCF) is to create public awareness about racism in Canada.  This mandate falls in line with the Foundation’s broader purpose of monitoring and combating manifestations of racism, xenophobia, and discrimination by increasing public awareness of such biases.

For more information, please contact Jamila Ewais, 514-389-8668
ARPCF, [email protected]

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