Residential schools

B.C. hospital worker allegedly told to take off orange shirt Indigenous children

Employee for housekeeping company contracted out by Fraser Health posted about incident on TikTok

In a video posted to TikTok on Monday (May 31), a worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital said she was told to change out of her orange shirt that she wore in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered at a former residential school site in Kamloops. (Photo: Felicia Debbie/TikTok)

In a video posted to TikTok on Monday (May 31), a worker at Surrey Memorial Hospital said she was told to change out of her orange shirt that she wore in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were recently discovered at a former residential school site in Kamloops. (Photo: Felicia Debbie/TikTok)

WARNING: This article contains details that some may find distressing.

A company contracted out by the Fraser Health Authority has reportedly apologized to one of its employees after a woman says she was told to take off the orange shirt she was wearing in honour of the 215 Indigenous children whose remains were found at a former residential school in Kamloops.

In a TikTok video posted by user felicia_debbie Monday (May 31), which has garnered more than 11,300 views, the woman said she wore her orange shirt to work at Surrey Memorial Hospital and was told to change.

“So I said, ‘No’ and they said, ‘Take it off.’ I said, ‘No, it stays on. If I can’t wear it, I’m going home.’ So I left work,” she says in the video.

@felicia_debbie

##215 ##residentialschool a topic i will not fight over

♬ original sound – Felicia Debbie

Orange Shirt Day, which is Sept. 30 each year, was part of a legacy project to commemorate the residential school experience, with the slogan “Every Child Matters.”

In the days since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation confirmed there were remains of at least 215 Indigenous children at the site of a former residential school in Kamloops, people have worn orange shirts in honour of the children.

Chief Rosanne Casimir of the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation said the remains of the children, some believed to be as young as three, were confirmed with the help of ground-penetrating radar.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was Canada’s largest such facility operated by the Roman Catholic Church between 1890 and 1969 before the federal government took it over as a day school until 1978, when it was closed.

Fraser Health referred the Now-Leader to Aramark, the company the woman works for. The Now-Leader had not yet heard back from Aramark.

Meantime, Hospital Employees’ Union spokesperson Mike Old, who said “we need to respect the privacy of our member,” said the union has been in touch with her.

“What happened to her was really unacceptable. We’ve spoken with her employer, Aramark which is a housekeeping contractor for Fraser Health, and we demanded that they apologize to this worker.”

Old said she did receive an apology.

He added the union also asked Aramark to provide cultural safety training for their managers and supervisors.

“I mean, it’s been a really, really tough week, especially for Indigenous people and for residential school survivors and their family. This should never have happened.”

Hospitals should be “a place of compassion and care” for not only patients but also for workers, Old noted.

“Earlier this week, this worker did not receive the kind of compassion that they should have had at a moment like this. it was a regrettable and disappointing incident. I hope that as a result of this that everybody in our health-care system will do much better.”

Old also pointed to the report earlier this year from Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond that found widespread racism in British Columbia’s health system, specifically that Indigenous people in B.C. are much more likely to feel unsafe in health-care settings, to feel they are never included in care decisions and to feel they receive poorer service than others.

READ ALSO: Anti-Indigenous racism embedded in B.C. healthcare system: report, Feb. 4, 2021

Old said there is still “a lot of work” to do in the health-care system to make sure it’s a safe space for Indigenous workers.

“Most Indigenous health-care workers have witnessed or experienced racism or discrimination in the workplace, so we have a lot to do in our health-care system to make it safer.”

The Indian Residential School Survivors Society is offering toll-free 24-hour telephone support for survivors and their families at 1 (866) 925-4419. The KUU-US Crisis Line Society’s 24-hour line is available at 1-800-588-8717.

– With files from the Canadian Press

READ ALSO: Two events in Surrey to honour 215 Indigenous children found at former residential school, June 2, 2021



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Indigenousresidential schools

Just Posted

Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend organizer Connie Crocker. (Photo submitted)
Chemainus Indigenous Peoples Weekend online June 19-21

Event’s been in the planning stages since February without knowing COVID implications

Rick Ruppenthal of Saltair will host a 12-hour talk-a-thon Friday, June 18 over Facebook live. (Photo submitted)
Talk-a-thon to focus on men’s mental health issues

Saltair man spearheading a campaign to generate more conversation during fundraiser

Julie Nygaard’s By Moonlight Raven Flight is one of the photo-artist works in her show Through My Eyes – A Visual Journey, which will be featured at Rainforest Arts through August. (Photo submitted)
Photographer-painter Nygaard featured at Rainforest Arts

Real images enhanced through digital means to create compelling art

Filming of The Baker’s Son in Chemainus. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Bread-making brilliance and mediocrity the recipe for movie ingredients

Willow Street on the map as a prominent location in The Baker’s Son

The return of Community Policing will be a welcome addition by residents. (File photo by Don Bodger)
Return of Community Policing in the works

Volunteers being sought and coordinators to be announced soon

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

A nurse prepares a shot of the COVID-19 vaccine at the Yukon Convention Centre in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mike Thomas
Vancouver couple pleads guilty to breaking Yukon COVID rules, travelling for vaccine

Chief Judge Michael Cozens agreed with a joint sentencing submission,

An inmate in solitary confinement given lunch on Tuesday, May 10, 2016. THE CANADIAN/Lars Hagberg
22-hour cap on solitary confinement for youth in custody still too long: B.C. lawyer

Jennifer Metcalfe was horrified to hear a youth had spent a total of 78 straight days in isolation

Flowers and candles were laid on the driveway of the Weber home, where Kerri Weber was found dead in November 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria man to stand trial for death of his wife last November

Ken Weber is charged with second-degree murder of his wife, Kerri Weber

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The discovery of a missing woman’s body in Nanaimo earlier this month is now being treated as homicide, say Nanaimo RCMP. (File photo)
Discovery of woman’s body in downtown Nanaimo now being investigated as a homicide

Amy Watts was found dead near Albert Street and Victoria Crescent on June 3

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens as Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents the province’s latest budget, April 20, 2021. The budget projects $19 billion in deficits over three years. (Hansard TV)
B.C. government budget balloons, beyond COVID-19 response

Provincial payroll up 104,000 positions, $10 billion since 2017

Ocean debris is shown on Long Beach in Tofino, B.C. on April, 18, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Shoreline cleanup finds COVID-related trash increased during height of the pandemic

Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup reports litter from single-use food packaging nearly doubled

Most Read