Indigenous man, 77, alleges racism, assault at Regina General Hospital

Thomas Favel at the press conference alleging racist discrimination and physical assault at the hands of Regina General Hospital. Derek Putz

As Canada celebrated National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Sept. 30, a 77-year-old Indigenous man is alleging he was being racially discriminated against and assaulted at Regina General Hospital.

Thomas Favel spoke out alongside the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) at First Nations University in Regina on Tuesday in an effort to bring awareness to the incident, telling reporters he was assaulted and forcefully restrained while asleep.

“I was sound asleep but the minute he grabbed me I woke up, and when he pushed me on my feet I landed on my feet and I can’t run and walk very good and he pushed me towards the door,” Favel said.

“The lady grabbed me and pushed me back and the guy grabbed me again and slammed me on this side and I’m bruised from here to the hip.”

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Thomas Favel’s bruises from the alleged assault at Regina General Hospital
Thomas Favel’s bruises from the alleged assault at Regina General Hospital. Ann Ewenin

He was receiving treatment for bronchitis and pneumonia when the alleged incident took place.

Favel added that he was forcefully restrained to the bed and in that position he was unable to cough and spit which he wanted to because of his illness.

I was flat on my back. I thought I was going to die a week or two ago. I would smother with my own phlegm,” he said.

Another bruise on Favel’s arm as he told his story at the press conference at First Nations University. Aishwarya Dudha

His family is outraged by the alleged mistreatment. “When they held him down, he asked them why are you doing this to me, I never ran away from residential school and you’re treating me like residential school and you’re wearing these orange shirts,” Favel’s daughter Ann, Ewenin, said at a press conference.

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“When the floor doctor would go see her father, they wouldn’t check him. They would stand two feet away from him because of his brown skin, and they would send him home telling him it was viral, viral infections,” Ewenin said.

The FSIN supports the family’s claims, saying this is entirely due to the colour of his skin

“This is a human rights case, a racial discrimination case, a medical malpractice case. As for those nurses who haven’t been named, you’re going to get names here. We’re going to find out. We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said.

“When I seen the marks on him Sunday I phoned the police and lay charges, nobody should have to come home like that when they are seeking help now we have to seek justice and help for him,” Ewenin said.

Cameron added that while he was speaking to Thomas and her family this morning, they said that they don’t want this to happen to anybody else.

Thomas Favel at the press conference at FNU alleging racial discrimination at Regina General Hospital. Derek Putz

“They don’t want any other person to go through what he’s endured, to be accused of trying to run away. If you can, focus on Thomas here, trying to run away. It’s not very mobile to begin with and to be accused of trying to run away,” he said.

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Cameron said that if the people responsible for the alleged abuse don’t resign, they (FSIN) are going to call for their termination and support taking any legal action necessary along the way.

The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) provided  the following statement in response to the allegations:

“We are very sorry to hear about the concerns being raised by this family, and are working to ensure that conversations with family and their supports, formal safety event processes and appropriate medical investigations are completed.

“While we cannot comment further on this particular situation due to privacy, we do take very seriously concerns like these. The SHA is committed to providing physical, psychological, social, cultural, and environmental safety for everyone every day. One aspect of which is providing access to First Nations and Metis Health services, which include access to cultural support workers and patient navigators to assist in communication between health-care teams and patients and families.

“Under SHA’s Culture of Safety policy, all staff members are responsible for fostering a culture of safety, including reporting, investigating and resolving unsafe work practices and/or conditions.

“Saskatchewan Health Authority staff continue to follow the Adult Least Mechanical Restraint policy which addresses the use of restraints. Staff are to have exhausted all alternative nursing interventions before implementing a restrictive device/restraint for the shortest amount of time necessary.

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“SHA is co-operating with the Regina Police Services investigation.”

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