An Indigenous woman is accusing Prince Albert’s Victoria Hospital of gross mistreatment after she went to emergency with a broken ankle earlier this summer.

Fifty-three-year-old Janette Sanderson of the James Smith Cree Nation says she went to the hospital on the evening of June 30 for treatment.

She alleges that in spite of her protests, an on duty nurse injected her with an unconfirmed substance which caused severe burning and inflammation in her arm.

At a press conference at the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Saskatoon offices Wednesday, Sanderson said she believes she was treated differently because she is First Nations.

“I just want to be heard that the way I was treated as an Aboriginal, I know it’s going on there still,” she said. “And I heard a lot of people that are addressing their experiences that they went through.”

Sanderson said the nurse told her she was being administered potassium but was later told by other officials it was calcium.

She said she then spent another two weeks at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital before being released on July 15 and is still recovering.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron did not mince words while addressing the issue and accused the hospital of blatant racism.

“What this lady went through is torture,” he said. “They tortured this lady to the point where she was baring the pain 24/7. And we will do all we can as a federation – legally, politically, technically – to right the wrong and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Prince Albert Grand Council has long advocated for a First Nations hospital in the region as a means of allowing Indigenous people to seek health treatment within a more culturally accommodating environment.

The province committed to a $300 million expansion of Victoria Hospital earlier this year as one of the ways of accommodating northern Saskatchewan’s growing population and its health care needs.

FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt, who was also at the press conference, said the incident is precisely why Indigenous people need their own ombudsperson to address mistreatment in the health care system.

“The federal government to support us in developing an ombudsman office,” he said. “Which, our chiefs have mandated us (to do) in assembly. So, we believe that health ombudsman – this is just another example of the need for that. So that when incidents like this happen, that our people have a place to go.”

In an emailed statement from the Saskatchewan Health Authority, Vice-President Integrated Northern Health Andrew McLetchie said, “Saskatchewan Health Authority operational leaders are aware of this situation, and the SHA has already been in contact with the patient and family. An investigation about the quality of care concerns is ongoing.”

Also in an emailed statement, Health Minister Jim Reiter said, “Anytime I am made aware of issues with the quality of care received by a patient, I am concerned. The SHA has a process to review concerns such as this and I understand that their investigation is ongoing.

I would encourage anyone with concerns about their care to consider a number of options including contacting their local Quality of Care Coordinator, the Provincial Quality of Care Coordinator, or the office of the provincial ombudsman.”

(PHOTOS: Top, Janette Sanderson, far left, shown at a press conference at the Federation of Sovereign Nations Saskatoon offices on Wednesday. Bottom, a photo of Sanderson’s inflamed arm while in hospital in July.)