Sept. 28, 2021

SMA to observe National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

Saskatchewan’s physicians are committed to advancing reconciliation, better understanding the root causes of health disparities among Indigenous patients, and addressing racism within the medical profession and the health system.

For these reasons, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) will close its offices on Sept. 30, 2021, in recognition of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation. The federal government has declared Sept. 30 a federal statutory holiday.

“Physicians see daily the first-hand the effects of intergenerational trauma on the health of Indigenous Peoples,” said SMA president Dr. Eben Strydom. “These effects are manifest in poor health outcomes, mental health issues, addictions and a distrust of a health system widely seen as colonial and oppressive. Physicians are in a unique position to confront the historic legacy of residential schools and to be leaders in creating meaningful change so that we can work toward mutually respectful relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.”

Dr. Strydom said he is encouraging physicians and the public to take time on Sept. 30 to learn about and reflect on the impacts of the residential school system and the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He noted that over the past number of years the SMA has advocated for reducing inequities experienced by Indigenous people.  The SMA Board of Directors also recently established an Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, which has begun consulting physicians on concrete steps the SMA can take to address racism and discrimination experienced by the medical profession and to model an inclusive profession built on respect for one another.

“As medical leaders, physicians can champion positive change,” Dr. Strydom said. “We need to educate ourselves and listen to the stories of our Indigenous patients. We cannot undo the past, but we can learn from it to create a welcoming environment for all of us, patients and practitioners alike.”

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