From West End Phoenix: Strong medicine for an ailing system

Racism in doctors’ offices and emergency rooms is a fact of life for Indigenous people living in the GTA. But this trio of women – a communications mastermind, a doctor and strategist, and an Elder in residence – have set out to change that.


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by Kelly Boutsalis | West End Phoenix


Several years ago, Joy Henderson was at home alone, indulging in a rare nap, when a cyst in her ovary ruptured. As her symptoms intensified, her in-laws happened to drop in, and they drove her to Scarborough General Hospital. Doubled over in pain, she says, she was received by a white female doctor who was annoyed that Henderson was crying.


“She was like, ‘Oh you’re just here to get drugs,” says Henderson, a child and youth worker who is Afro-Indigenous. She was only able to get proper care when her mother-in-law, who is white, went “full Karen,” as Henderson describes it, asking to see the doctor’s higher-ups.


Henderson has since divorced; no longer having a white advocate to help her in future health emergencies, she asks hypothetically, “If another cyst ruptures, am I shit outta luck?”


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