It was with horror that we listened to the cries of 37-year-old Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw mother of seven, as she lay dying in a hospital bed in Joliette, Que.

It was with disgust that we heard a nurse, a woman who was supposed to care for her, utter racial slurs rather than come to her aid.

It makes us wonder how many other Indigenous women are being subjected to this sort of abuse in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada but did not have the courage or ability to film their own distress.

We are glad that Quebec Premier Francois Legault has condemned the nurse’s behaviour and that investigations have been launched into this matter.

We hope the tragedy will also spur the Quebec government to act on the 142 recommendations of the Viens Commission which concluded  last year that the province owes Indigenous people an apology for the way they are mistreated by the public service, including in the delivery of health care.

And we hope that all levels of government begin to take seriously the Calls for Justice of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, and well as the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

Only when governments recognize the harms that are being perpetrated against Indigenous people, take steps to correct them, and make the necessary reparations, will repugnant incidents like the one endured by Joyce Echaquan be prevented.

30 –

For information, contact Gloria Galloway at or 613-447-6648