AMC Concerned Over Deteriorating Integrity of Winnipeg Hospital’s Sexual Assault Program

March 23, 2023

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, MB – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses deep concern over the recent news announcement that a majority of nurses recently trained at the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program at the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg have resigned within a short period of time after public outrage of the Province for not prioritizing the recruitment of nurses to assess and support victims of sexual assault and ensure the collection of criminal evidence for convictions. Already at the height of a staffing crisis for doctors and nurses – the deteriorating quality of healthcare delivery in Manitoba is concerning in addition to Racism in Healthcare already detrimentally affects First Nations citizens at an alarming rate.

Executive Director of Acute Health Services, Jennifer Cumpsty, shared that four casual nurses quit the sexual assault nurse examiner program. This came after a report from earlier this month when it was revealed that the Health Science Centre did not examine a Sexual Assault victim and sent her home with instructions not to shower because of staff shortages and delays. Others have been told to wait hours in the emergency department until a nurse arrive.

“It is incredibly disheartening to know that an essential program that is supposed to be a safe, supportive, and affirming option for those victims who has experienced unimaginable trauma, has now become a source of frustration, disappointment and re-victimization,” says Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “It is clear that the Province must intervene immediately to re-examine the ailing Health Care System starting with re-assessing the sexual assault nurse examiner program so that those who need it, can confidently treated with care and compassion and know their assessments will be done efficiently and without inflicting further trauma.”

As affirmed by the Final Report of the National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, “Interpersonal violence directed against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people is one of the most significant health impacts associated with the colonial violence of residential schools, family separation and relocation, dispossessions of land, and the Indian Act.” First Nation women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people continue to be targeted when it comes to sexual violence, and when the avenues of seeking justice for that violence become to convoluted with delays and staff shortages, the feeling of disparity prevails. This failure to provide affirming care puts survivors at risk of mental distress, self-harm, and suicide.

“Access to rights-affirming care in a safe space with staff who are attentive, caring, and efficient is vital to ensuring that those who experience violence are respected and supported as they decide their next steps,” says Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “We call on the Provincial Health Minister, Audrey Gordon, and Shared Health leadership to review and provide any necessary funding or support to ensure this program returns to its full capacity.”

First Nations women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA in Manitoba deserve to feel that they have a supportive, caring, compassionate, and safe space when reporting sexual assaults, and it is the Provincial Health Leaders in this province who bear the responsibility of ensuring that their system of health care is available and efficient.

For more information, please contact:
Communications Team
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs

About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.