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

Sculpture to offer point of beauty and unity at rivers’ junction in Grand Forks

Artist David Seven Deers spent 19 months sculpting Shining Raven Woman

Lost dog swims Columbia River multiple times searching for home

The dog was missing from his Castlegar home for three days.

Greenwood Museum debuts new Chinese laundry exhibit

The new exhibit reflects a staple business of the city from more than 100 years ago

Spring flooding financial relief available for affected residents

The provincial funds are for those affected by flooding in May and early June

Injured dirt biker evacuated from near Bluejoint Lookout

Emergency crews brought the rider to hospital, where doctors determined he had a fractured vertebra

The pandemic is widening Canada’s workplace gender gap

Gender pay gap is incentivizing fathers to work while mothers watch children, a new B.C. study has found

Ex-Okanagan Mountie forfeits 20 days’ pay after sexual misconduct review

A former Vernon RCMP constable made sexual comments, grabbed genitals of male officer in two incidents 10 years ago

Man found dead on Okanagan trail identified as Hollywood actor

GoFundMe campaign launched for man found dead at summit of Spion Kop

3 people dead in Prince George motel fire

Fire personnel believe the blaze was suspicious although investigation in early stages

B.C. sets terms to review police, mental health, race relations

MLAs to recommend Police Act changes by May 2021

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Ghost gear accounts for up to 70 per cent of all macro-plastics in the ocean by weight

Almost 99% less land in B.C. burned this year compared to 2018

2018 was the worst year on record for wildfires

B.C. orders Coastal GasLink to stop pipeline construction near protected wetlands

The 670-kilometre pipeline is planned to transport natural gas from northeast B.C. to Kitimat

Most Read