In a feat that most would never dream of let alone undertake, Norman Shewaybick from Webequi, a growing Ojibway community located on a northern peninsula in Ontario, Canada, finished dragging his wife’s oxygen tank over 600 miles this Monday in an act of protest against the government.
The Canadian healthcare system may be subsidized by the government, but that doesn’t always mean that everyone in the country gets equal care.
Shewaybick attached the empty tank to a sled and pulled it over Canada’s ice and snow for seventeen days because, he says, his wife died this past year when her oxygen ran out and the local nursing station, which serves his remote community, had none available to replace it.
Adding to the tragedy, a report on cbc.ca says that Shewaybick’s wife died on their wedding anniversary.
“It was my 26th wedding anniversary and that’s what Health Canada gave me for an anniversary present-a dead wife,” Shewaybick is quoted as saying.
Why did such a catastrophe occur? Because there is a lot of improvement that needs to be done in Canada’s remote communities, and the system is lacking.
Up until this point, not every community in Canada’s north had an oxygen concentrator.
And a report done last year stated that Health Canada had no way of ascertaining if the nursing stations run by the government in the country’s northern First Nations communities were meeting the needs of the people they served.
(Do a survey?)
Hopefully Shewaybick’s walk has prompted change.
“We are now instituting a whole review of our nursing stations in Ontario,” said Keith Conn, the regional director of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch of Health Canada to the CBC.
Shawaybick said he’s pleased to see that his immense trek is breaking the silence and bringing the experiences of First Nations people in the health care system to light.
Change is good but hopefully next time it won’t take a death and a man walking hundreds of miles with an empty oxygen tank to spark it.