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

Brody Peterson said he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Brody Peterson told The Gazette he intends to dispute tickets issued by Grand Forks RCMP at his backyard “house warming” Saturday, Oct. 10. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks RCMP recommend criminal charges after weekend party

Homeowner Brody Peterson said he’ll dispute tickets for refusing police instructions, alleged COVID violations

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Kelowna RCMP investigating unexplained death of cattle

Cattle found dead near gravel road, east of the Kelowna Airport

From right to left: Silverado Socrates (Independent), Norm Letnick (Liberal), John Janmaat (Green) and Kyle Geronazzo (Libertarian). (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-Lake Country candidates square off at forum

All candidates in the riding were in attendance except for BC NDP candidate Justin Kulik

Vernon Fire Rescue Services work to put out a structure fire in an abandoned house on Highway 97 and 39th Avenue Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020. (Caitlin Clow - Vernon Morning Star)
UPDATE: Vernon house fire under control

Single-lane traffic remains in effect on Highway 97 in both directions

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Paul Singla walks towards his Penticton home on Heather Road in 2018 after CBSA officers raided it. (File photo)
Singla and Toor make first court appearances on immigration fraud

The Okanagan men had their cases adjourned until 2021

A glimpse of some of the 480 (approx) cars written off as a result of the acid spills along the Trail highway in 2018. Photo: Trail Times
Kootenay Ford dealer’s frustration grows with ICBC

Trail AM Ford owner Dan Ashman says he just wants fair compensation from ICBC

Mail-in ballot from Elections BC (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
At least 26% of eligible voters have already cast a ballot, Elections BC says

Voters can cast a ballot until 8 p.m PST on Election Day

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A 2018 decision to fly a rainbow flag ended up costing the City of Langley $62,000 in legal fees (Langley Advance Times file)
Human rights win in rainbow flag fight cost B.C. city $62,000

“Lengthy and involved” process provoked by complaint

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a news conference Tuesday October 20, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau and his family decide against trick-or-treating this year due to COVID

Adhering to local health authorities, Trudeau urges Canadians to do their part in following those guidelines

Surrey RCMP cruisers outside a Newton townhouse Tuesday night. (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Toddler in hospital, woman dead following stabbings at Surrey townhouse

Police say two-year-old was among victims found at townhouse complex in the 12700-block of 66 Avenue

Most Read