Quebec still has a problem coming to grips it has a problem with racism against its Indigenous people
It has been exactly two years since the Quebec health care providers mistreated Joyce Echaquan, a woman of the Atikamekw Nation, who shortly died from not receiving proper medical attention.
On September 26, 2020, Echaquan was admitted to the Centre Hospitalier de Lanaudière in Saint-Charles-Borromée, Quebec, for stomach pains, in which she was administered morphine; despite her objections, she would have an adverse effect.
Her last Facebook Live video showed her screaming in distress and being insulted by the healthcare workers. While Ms. Echaquan agonized in pain, the hospital employees could be heard disrespecting her verbally;
One employee asked her if she is “done acting stupid.” At the same time, others made remarks questioning her life choices and sexual habits.
In a statement from the various Canadian Ministers responsible for Indigenous relations, it read in part; “Joyce’s story revealed and amplified the racial stereotypes and bias that continue to harm First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and communities. Her tragic and avoidable death ignited a long overdue call to address the truths that exist in our health systems and the urgency for change. In Joyce’s memory, the Atikamekw Nation created “Joyce’s Principle,” which aims to protect the right of all Indigenous Peoples to equitable access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services, as well as the right to enjoy the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.”
Racism against Canada’s Indigenous people will always be an uphill battle. It also does not help when the province’s Premier François Legault asserts that Quebec does not have a problem with systematic racism. It does not for him, and it will never be.
The treatment of Joyce Echaquan, by Quebec’s healthcare system is another grim reminder that these issues are far from resolved. It is a reminder that although Joyce’s story is at the forefront, many other personal accounts of the mistreatment of Indigenous people happen daily throughout Canada’s Healthcare system.