The Medicine Chest
A Physician’s Journey Towards Reconciliation
An examination of the barriers facing Indigenous people within the healthcare system from the perspective of an empathetic settler physician
After leaving her medical practice in Pennsylvania in 2011, Jarol Boan returned to her childhood home in Saskatchewan, Canada to practice medicine. There she found a healthcare system struggling with preventable chronic diseases and institutional racism. Shocked by the high rate of preventable diseases in her patients, Boan realized that a paternalistic deficit model does not support Indigenous communities. Through working to provide medical services in Indigenous communities and learning firsthand from her Indigenous patients, Boan embarked on a road to enlightenment and reconciliation.
In The Medicine Chest, Boan exposes the healthcare disparities in a country that prides itself on an equitable healthcare system and examines the devastating effects of diabetes, the myth of “the drunken Indian,” the inner workings of hospitals, Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, epidemics on reserves, and residential school trauma. Exploring the intersectionality of common diseases and social determinants of health gained from her experience of caring for Indigenous patients, Boan weaves historical data, comments on health policy, and jurisdictional gaps into the narrative while investigating how Canada’s healthcare system is failing those most in need.
“A heart-breaking, heart-warming story of damage and caring. I couldn’t stop reading.” —Gary Geddes, Medicine Unbundled
“Canada’s national sense of self is rooted in the myth of a fair, open, and public health care system. But all too often the medical system is a nightmare journey for Indigenous patients and their families. The Medicine Chest is a frontline diary of the struggle to address the inequities and colonial legacy, and the urgency to find a new way to healing and reconciliation.” —Charlie Angus, Cobalt and Children of the Broken Treaty
“Dr. Boan confronts the traps and assumptions she unearths, both in herself and in the health care system, as she journeys, and sometimes stumbles, along the messy path toward self-awareness and reconciliation.” —Karen Palmer, Policy Advisor to Canadian Doctors for Medicare
“An important effort at reaching out and tackling the challenges presented by Indigenous health disparities and jurisdictional obstacles.” —Blair Stonechild, First Nations University of Canada