People take part in a protest called ‘Justice for Joyce’ in Montreal, Saturday, October 3, 2020, where they demanded justice for Joyce Echaquan and an end to all systemic racism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Quebec premier formally apologizes to Joyce Echaquan’s family

The Indigenous mother died in hospital while filming staff making degrading comments about her

Quebec Premier Francois Legault stood in the legislature Tuesday and formally apologized on behalf of the government to the family of an Indigenous woman subjected to verbal abuse as she lay dying in a hospital.

His apology came the same day a private funeral was scheduled for Joyce Echaquan in the Atikamekw community of Manawan, about 250 kilometres north of Montreal.

The 37-year-old mother of seven died in hospital in Joliette, Que., last week, after she filmed herself in distress and pleading for help in a video that also captured hospital staff making degrading comments about her.

“I want, on behalf of the Quebec state, to offer my apologies to the family, loved ones and the community of Joyce Echaquan,” Legault said.

“Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated case,” the premier added. “There continue to be a lot of racist acts against Indigenous people in Quebec, and it’s not by chance. For decades, Indigenous people have been subjected to discrimination by different levels of government.”

The video, filmed from Echaquan’s hospital bed northeast of Montreal, triggered widespread indignation, protest marches and vigils across Canada.

In Ottawa, a minute of silence was held for Echaquan following question period Tuesday.

Legault met with the grand chief of the Atikamekw Nation on Monday and promised better training throughout the hospital network as well as a public awareness campaign on the importance of fighting racism.

But while his government has taken action that includes opening a public inquiry into Echaquan’s death, the premier has consistently maintained that systemic racism doesn’t exist in Quebec.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

IndigenousRacial injustice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Tigh-Na-Mara general manager Paul Drummond, left, and SOS executive director Susanna Newton right are prepared for a reinvented Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive in 2020. COVID-19 will not spoil the community’s annual day of giving and help for local families through the SOS Caring for Community at Christmas program. (Peter McCully photo)
Reinventing Parksville Qualicum Beach’s popular Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive

COVID-19 restrictions won’t spoil community’s annual morning of giving

Map of the location of the Telus cell tower that it plans to build in Qualicum Beach. (Town of Qualicum Beach Map)
Qualicum Beach council approves location of Telus communications tower

Plan is to improve cellphone service in the area

The City of Quesnel has painted its functional fire hydrants with different characters. (Quesnel Downtown Association Photo)
Qualicum Beach committee wants fire hydrants painted with sea life designs

Local artists would be invited to help with the work

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Police in Nanaimo are looking for a woman who allegedly threw hot coffee on a McDonald’s employee. (News Bulletin photo)
UPDATE: Nanaimo RCMP still looking for woman who threw coffee at worker after already receiving refund

Police asking for information in investigation that could lead to assault charges

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read