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

Ron getting loose and sipping a glass of the family’s favourite greek amber spirit, Metaxa. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Ron Lechner

Retired part-time singer and Rio Tinto lifer: Ron Lechner

Map of the road work that will be completed this summer. The streets highlighted in red are what the district planned on completing before additional funding, and the streets highlighted in orange is the road works that will be done with the additional funding. (District of Kitimat photo)
$1.1 million allocated for road work this year in Kitimat

Kitimat council has added $470,000 for more work by deferring four other projects.

Hirsch Creek Golf Course Volunteer, Augie Penner, talking about how he continues the tradition, set by Joe Atamchuck, to catch and release fry that keep spawning at the course. (Jacob Lubberts photo)
VIDEO: Kitimat golf course volunteers making moves for the fishlings

During the highwater season, salmon are known to lay their eggs in the ponds at the golf course

Ocean Wise’s cetacean photogrammetry research program uses aerial images collected by boat-launched drones to measure the body condition of whales. (Ocean Wise Marine Mammal License MML-18 photo)
LNG Canada commits $750K to whale research, conservation initiative

Ocean Wise education team will work alongside educational and Indigenous leaders in the area

The Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre will be closed from June 28 until September 13 for annual facility maintenance as well as teach pool and decking repairs. (Black Press photo)
Sam Lindsay Aquatic Centre closed: June 28 – September 13

The aquatic centre will be closed for annual facility maintenance

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

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

The first suspension bridge is the tallest in Canada, with a second suspension bridge just below it. The two are connected by a trail that’s just over 1 km. (Claire Palmer photo)
PHOTOS: The highest suspension bridges in Canada just opened in B.C.

The Skybridge in Golden allows visitors to take in views standing at 130 and 80 metres

BC Green Party leader and Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau introduced a petition to the provincial legislature on Thursday calling for the end of old-growth logging in the province. (File photo)
BC Green leader Furstenau introduces old-growth logging petition

Party calls for the end of old-growth logging as protests in Fairy Creek continue

B.C. Premier John Horgan leaves his office for a news conference in the legislature rose garden, June 3, 2020. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. premier roasted for office budget, taxing COVID-19 benefits

Youth addiction law that triggered election hasn’t appeared

A vial containing the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine is shown at a vaccination site in Marcq en Baroeul, outside Lille, northern France, Saturday, March 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michel Spingler
mRNA vaccines ‘preferred’ for all Canadians, including as 2nd dose after AstraZeneca: NACI

New recommendations prioritizes Pfizer, Moderna in almost all cases

Most Read