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

Electricity, natural gas use spiked during cold snap: FortisBC

FortisBC said that natural gas use was 50 per cent higher on Jan. 14, compared to week prior

Occupants escape early morning house fire in Grand Forks

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue was called to the scene at 3:38 a.m. on Jan. 15

Latest winter storm prompts West Kootenay travel warning

20-30 cm of snow expected overnight and into Thursday

Impromptu shelter opens in Grand Forks

Volunteers were given owner’s access to building previously used as warming centre in Grand Forks

Programs available in West Kootenay for substance use challenges

Sign up now for two six-week programs in January and March

Kids across Canada more at risk of hospitalization from flu this season: doctor

Dr. Theresa Tam said influenza B does not usually peak until February or later

B.C. offers $5 million equipment loan program to help ailing forest contractors

Local politicians in Port McNeill and Campbell River says local economies are struggling

Vancouver Island distillery wins award for best Canadian rye whisky

Shelter Point cleans up at Canadian Whisky Awards

Kelowna hotel to award couples for baby-making with Nooner deal

The deal includes a free stay every Valentine’s Day for the next 18 years

Crown won’t appeal sentence in child sex assault case of former Burns Lake mayor

B.C. Prosecution Service said sentence doesn’t meet standard for appeal

On the job hunt with Nelson’s Make A Change Canada

The employment charity is organizing next week’s Kootenay Patricks, Montreal Canadiens game

‘Scariest boat ride of my life’: Passengers trapped by ice on rocky B.C. ferry sailing

The Nimpkish docked in Bella Coola on Jan.12 coated in a thick layer of ice

B.C. pair ordered to pay $55,000 for oil tank discovered four years after selling home

Judge says defendants breached contract, despite being unaware of tank until basement flooded

Canada to give $25,000 to families of each Canadian who died in Iran plane crash

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made it clear that Canada still expects Iran to compensate victims

Most Read