Content warning: First Nations readers are warned that the following article contains images of deceased persons and discusses racism.
The death of an Atikamekw woman who livestreamed a Quebec hospital worker’s racist insults in the last moments of her life has left the province reeling, with some calling Joyce Echaquan the province’s “own George Floyd.”
The 37-year-old mother of seven died Monday in a Joliette hospital , a three-hour drive south from her home in the First Nations reserve of Manawan. Shortly before her death, she posted a live video on Facebook in which she is seen tied to her gurney. Out of the camera’s view, at least two health-care workers can be heard uttering racist slurs and dismissing Echaquan’s worries that the medication she was being given could aggravate a known heart condition for which she had had a pacemaker since 2014.
“Come get me!” Echaquan screams.
“You’re dumb as hell,” one staff workers tells her in French. “That’s better dead,” she laters mutters, calling Echaquan “better to fuck than for anything else.”
“And we’re the ones paying for it,” the worker adds, as another worker tells Echaquan she “made bad choices” and “should think about [her] kids.”
Her death was recorded that same evening.
Anger and grief
Quebec Premier François Legault told the press Tuesday afternoon that one of the nurses heard in the video had been fired, calling her behaviour “totally unacceptable.” Joyce’s mum Diane Echaquan told HuffPost Quebec, however, that she won’t be satisfied until the people she says are responsible for her daughter’s death are brought to justice.
“One nurse was fired, she said. The others are still there.”
Outraged by Echaquan’s fate, hundreds of people, mostly Indigenous, held a candlelight vigil in front of the Joliette hospital Tuesday evening. Calls of “Justice for Joyce” also echoed online, as those who couldn’t make it to the event were invited to livestream...