Inside a hospital operating room. (Pixabay photo)

Dying Indigenous man alleges BC Transplant’s alcohol abstinence policy is racist

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, argues that six-month sobriety policy is a ‘lethal form of racism’

An Indigenous man in need of a liver transplant has filed a complaint with B.C. Human Rights Tribunal over BC Transplant’s six-month abstinence policy that has excluded him from the province-wide wait list.

David Dennis, who is Nuu-chah-nulth, said in a news release Tuesday that he has end-stage liver disease and is need of a life-saving transplant. While he has been sober since June, he won’t be placed on a transplant list unless he remains abstinent until December, as per BC Transplant’s Abstinence Policy.

Filed jointly by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and the Frank Paul Society, Dennis argues that the policy discriminates against Indigenous people, who have disproportionately higher rates of alcohol use disorder largely due to harmful colonial policies but especially through the intergenerational traumas of the Indian residential schools.

“I’m not just at the bottom of the waiting list for a liver transplant; I’ve been kicked off the list entirely,” Dennis said.

“I want to continue to live and be here for my children and family. But if I don’t make it, I want the Union of BC Indian Chiefs and Frank Paul Society to carry on and get rid of this lethal form of racism.”

The complaint names the Ministry of Health, the Provincial Health Services Agency, Vancouver Coastal Health and the BC Transplant Society.

ALSO READ: Organ donation saved record 502 lives last year in B.C.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, called the policy “antiquated [and] moralizing,” and one that “disproportionately punishes Indigenous peoples without any scientific rationale.”

He added that this could make an easy win for the provincial government in making good on its commitment toward reconciliation and equity, as recommended in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Calls to Action.

The groups want an end to the abstinence policy, Dennis to be placed on the transplant list immediately and a declaration that the policy is discriminatory towards Indigenous people and those with alcohol use disorders.

“The proper response to Indigenous peoples whose lives have been affected by intergenerational trauma and oppressive colonial policies should include empathy and understanding, not another door shut to justice and equality,” he said.

According to a study published in the Canadian Liver Journal by three doctors at the University of Western Ontario, most transplant programs require at least six months of sobriety for two reasons: to identify patients who are at risk of relapsing and to give time for recovering from any ongoing alcohol-related injuries or chemical dependence.

Black Press Media has reached out to BC Transplant for comment.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Art sessions coming to Keremeos park

Four art programs will be offered in Pine Park From late June through July

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

First day back; attending elementary school amid COVID-19

“… Social connections are certainly important for kids,” said Carmi principal Dave Ritchie.

VIDEO: B.C. dentist gets grand welcome home after two months in hospital fighting COVID-19

Michael Chow was given a surprise send off by hospital staff and ‘welcome home’ from neighbours

‘Like finding a needle in a haystack’: Ancient arrowhead discovered near Williams Lake

The artifact is believed to be from the Nesikip period between 7,500 BP to 6,000 BP

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe campaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Indigenous chief alleges RCMP beat him during arrest that began over expired licence plate

Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam calling for independent investigation

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Most Read