Canada’s silent deaths: the grim reality of indigenous clinics

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Canada’s silent deaths: the grim reality of indigenous clinics

Government is treating First Nations communities like second-class citizens, say critics

Allison Martell

Ina Matawapit was barely conscious – intoxicated and suffering from a blow to the head – when police drove her to the North Caribou Lake clinic in Ontario, Canada, one summer evening in 2012.

The nurse at the federal government-run clinic, the only source of emergency care in this remote indigenous community, told the officers the 37-year-old could sober up in jail, according to testimony at a 2018 inquest. Minutes after leaving the clinic, the police sped back. Matawapit had no pulse and could not be revived.

At the inquest the nurse testified that in sending Matawapit on to jail, she had been following a standard protocol for intoxicated patients in the northern reserves. Government officials testified there was no such thing...

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