The organization that delivers health programs for the Alberta government has fired two employees over a racial slur made against an Indigenous educator.
Last week, Alberta Health Services (AHS) apologized for a text message that was sent between two workers that referred to a member of the Kainai Board of Education as a "rabid squaw." Dr. Verna Yiu, CEO of AHS, said Monday that two employees have been terminated effective immediately.
"This incident is not representative of who AHS is or what AHS stands for," Yiu said in a release. "All AHS employees are expected to adhere to our Code of Conduct, which includes treating all people with dignity and fairness."
The slur was accidentally sent to an employee of the Kainai Board of Education, which provides services for the Blood Tribe in southern Alberta.
Last Friday, Annette Bruisedhead, deputy superintendent of the board, said the AHS employee later apologized. Bruisedhead called the comment a severe act of discrimination and racism that would not be tolerated.
At the time, Ramona Big Head, the principal of the middle school on the reserve, said she was the employee being referred to in the text. She said the AHS official and many others "share the same dark, racist thoughts.''
On Monday, Bruisedhead said in a news release that the board would also have no comment on the firings "as this is AHS's business and we respect their decision."
The release said the board would continue to work in the spirit of reconciliation and healing and would continue have discussions with AHS about providing a cultural centre on the reserve where AHS employees and other public servants "can be educated in the ways of Kainaiyssini (Kainai Ways of Knowing and Being)."
Yiu said no further information about the terminations or the fired employees would be released.
"AHS is committed to advancing the process of reconciliation with indigenous peoples and communities, and we will move forward from this incident together with our Indigenous communities and all Albertans."