Inside a hospital operating room. (Pixabay photo)

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

Carol Hanson and Ellen Frood of ACAWS were two of the first 100 people to raise $500 for the Coldest Night of the Year 2021 event across Canada. They received these hoodies in recognition of their efforts. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Coldest Night of the Year goes virtual for 2021

Port Alberni organizers urging people to share photos of their walks to create community feel

Larry Brechin’s first day working at Woodward’s Store in 1962. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
VALLEY SENIORS: Woodward’s was an Alberni Valley landmark

Port Alberni residents share their memories of the department store

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off on Runway 12 midway through a day of test flights on Jan. 13, 2021 at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport. Viking Air is located in Victoria. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Viking Air tests Twin Otter at Port Alberni airport

Victoria-based company used rural airport for numerous flights

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

An enchanted forest photo booth has been set up outside the Alberni Valley public library as part of Family Literacy Week activities (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Celebrate Family Literacy Week in Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Children & Youth Network has a week of activities planned

(Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
The Pachena Bay shoreline in 2013. (Twitter/Ateachersaurus)
This week in history: 9.0 magnitude quake struck under what is now called Vancouver Island

According to First Nations elders, the 9.0-magnitude quake in 1700 CE kick-started a tsunami

Extensive water on No. 4 and 5 at the Mount Brenton Golf Course following heavy rains earlier this month. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Island golf course does a booming business in 2020

A total of 15,000 more rounds played than the previous year at Mount Brenton

SAR crews worked late into the night Tuesday to rescue an injured snowboarder in North Vancouver. (Facebook/North Shore Rescue)
Complicated, dangerous rescue saves man in avalanche near Cypress Mountain

North Shore SAR team braves considerable conditions to reach injured snowboarder

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
UPDATE: No sign of small plane that went down in waters south of Vancouver Island

Searchers out on both sides of border between Victoria and Port Angeles

A tip from the public helped Victoria police located and arrest wanted men Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Tips lead police to arrest convicted killer, robber near downtown Victoria

Two men were at large after failing to return to community facility

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 Pacific Rim Whale Festival is breaching for a COVID-safe return in March. (Poster photo by Owen Crosby)
Pacific Rim Whale Festival aims for virtual return in March

Educational celebration scheduled to arrive in Tofino-Ucluelet on March 15.

In this undated image made from a video taken by the Duke of Sussex and posted on @SaveChildrenUK by the Duke of Sussex and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, shows the Duchess of Sussex reading the book “Duck! Rabbit!” to their son Archie who celebrates his first birthday on Wednesday May 6, 2020. The Canadian Paediatric Society is reminding families that the process of raising a reader starts from birth. (Duke of Sussex/@SaveChildrenUK)
Canadian Paediatric Society says raising a reader starts from birth

CPS says literacy is one of the strongest predictors of lifelong health outcomes

Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion Minister Carla Qualtrough responds to a question during a news conference Thursday August 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Easing rules for parental benefits created inequities among parents, documents say

Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough’s office says the government will make any necessary changes

Most Read