The death of an indigenous woman in the Canadian province of Quebec is sparking outrage and investigations after a shocking video showed her being verbally abused by hospital staff — and many believe it was racially motivated, according to multiple reports.
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A heartbreaking livestream by Joyce Echaquan before her death on Monday depicts hospital staff members near her as she cried out in pain at Lanaudière Integrated Health and Social Services Center (CISSS) in Joliette. Echaquan’s Facebook Live footage — which was reviewed by local outlets and could be disturbing to some viewers — was publicly shared by Journal Métro and reportedly features nurses insulting the 37-year-old mother in French.
“You made some bad choices, my dear,” one of the nurses was recorded saying, according to The Guardian‘s translation. “What are your children going to think, seeing you like this?”
The Quebec premier, François Legault, condemned the actions of the staff, telling reporters at least one of the nurses had been fired.
But the premier rejected the notion that Echaquan’s death was representative of a broader problem of racism within Quebec, despite a public inquiry concluding the opposite.
“I really don’t think we have this kind of way of dealing with First Nations people in our hospitals in Quebec,” he said.
The province’s coroner office has announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Echaquan’s death. The local health board is also investigating.
‘‘We will not tolerate any remarks of that type from our personnel,” the board said in a statement.
While we do not know what occurred before or after the video or what happened during several missing minutes when the posted footage was fast-forwarded.
The video sparked outrage in Canada and protests outside the hospital, with some in the crowd on Tuesday chanting, “Justice for Joyce.”
Les slogans de la foule evant l’hôpital de Joliette 👇
« Qu’est-ce qu’on veut? La justice! »
« Fini le racisme! »
« Justice pour Joyce! »#JusticePourJoyce pic.twitter.com/ycwV2BOV8p
— Steeve Petiquay (@SteeveQC) September 29, 2020
Echaquan’s death comes amid ongoing concerns over the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada, who make up about 5 percent of the country’s population of nearly 37 million. —NBC