(ANNews) – Alberta Health Services is apologizing after sending a teenage Indigenous girl a letter addressed to “Treaty Indian.”
In a written statement, Alberta Health Services stated that on April 4, they were made aware of a letter that had been sent by AHS to a young First Nations person.
“The address line of the letter contained completely inappropriate and culturally offensive language, which should never have been used. We sincerely and unreservedly apologize for any offence or concern this has caused. This should not have happened, and we are profoundly saddened that it has.
“We reached out to the mother and her daughter yesterday evening to apologize, and also apologized to members of the First Nations, Indigenous and Metis communities last night on social media.
“We also discussed how we can learn from events like this at a Truth and Reconciliation event in Edmonton this morning.”
AHS stated that they will continue to provide updated information on how this happened, and what they are doing to make sure it never happens again.
“This in no way reflects the beliefs or values of AHS and is no way indicative of our relationship with First Nations and Indigenous people,” stated AHS. “All of our employees are expected to treat all people with dignity and respect.
“Our code of conduct emphasizes the importance of treating all people with compassion, dignity, respect and fairness, and building cultural competency and sensitivity is important to all of us.
“Rest assured that we are taking this extremely seriously. We will continue to be guided by the advice of our Wisdom Council, a group of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Albertans who first came together in September of 2012. We know that a significant barrier to First Nations people accessing the healthcare system is trust and acknowledge that institutional racism and stereotyping has kept people from getting the care they need.
“We also know that the relationships between AHS and First Nations people must continue to improve, and we are committed to building, nurturing and growing those relationships.
AHS has now completed its initial investigation into how unacceptable and culturally insensitive language was included in a letter to a young First Nations person.
An updated statement by AHS reads, “This was an inexcusable error, and should never have happened. The error occurred when historical wording related to Treaty status was entered into the wrong field on a patient record, at the time of a hospital visit more than a decade ago. Following a more recent hospital visit, our computer system inadvertently copied that incorrect wording, and included it on an invoice which was then sent out to the person.”
The AHS statement continued, “The wording is absolutely not language that we would purposefully use. It is inappropriate, insensitive and should not be used in any circumstance.
“We are confident that this is a one-off incident, and that it is not indicative of language used by AHS staff. We are continuing to review this case, including reviewing all wording in billing system databases, to ensure this does not happen again.
“In addition, we have waived the invoice regarding this issue.”