Bonnie Larson is Family Physician at Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) Health Centre
Recently I called the emergency department from my outreach clinic in an urban shelter. Near the end of the day, the nurse mentioned that one of the clients staying there, a young aboriginal woman I will call Ms. Rain, was supposed to follow up on an abnormal lab result from a few days earlier. As I looked the patient up on the ancient clinic laptop, I thought about the promise I had made to my daughter that morning to try to be home by suppertime. I willed the computer to load the results a little faster so I could get home to my family.
Much as I love the Harry Potter books and love reading them to my kids, they’re a little too fictional for my taste, and I’m not talking about the magic. Thing is… kids who grow up with the chronic stress of abuse and near-starvation in their formative years seldom – actually pretty much never - go on to be high-functioning, top-of-their-class children with great self-restraint and a well-functioning moral compass. If you heap adversity on a child you’re more likely to get a Neville Longbottom / Tom Riddle mix, not our beloved Harry. So there’s something about me that feels awkward about feeding the Harry Potter fiction to my kids.
Meghna Rajaprakash is a medical student at the University of Toronto (class of 2016)
The recent Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) report (2015) called upon medical schools “to require all students to take a course dealing with Aboriginal health issues, including the history and legacy of residential schools, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Treaties and Aboriginal rights, and Indigenous teachings and practices.” As I read the details of the report, it resonated greatly with my experience of a gap in my formal education and the drastic need I felt when I worked with Indigenous patients during my clinical experiences.
My early exposure to Aboriginal health issues was during my graduate work on prenatal alcohol exposure, when I learned of Indigenous children who were separated from biological mothers, placed in multiple foster placements, and who suffered from poor physical and mental health. ...continue reading →