QuickQuotes: Comments on Quebec coroner's report into the death of Joyce Echaquan

·3 min read

MONTREAL — A Quebec coroner on Tuesday discussed her report into the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Indigenous mother of seven who filmed herself on Facebook Live as a nurse and an orderly were heard making derogatory comments toward her shortly before her death Sept. 28, 2020, at a hospital in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.

Here are some key quotes from politicians and stakeholders about coroner Géhane Kamel's report, which included the recommendation that the Quebec government recognize systemic racism and root it out of institutions.

Coroner Géhane Kamel

"The racism and prejudices that Echaquan faced were certainly contributory to her death. This is an accidental death, a death that could have been avoided."

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"Systemic racism does not claim that every individual who makes up this system is racist. Rather, it suggests that the system, either through prejudices that are tolerated or through wrongdoings or inactions, contributes to trivialize and marginalize Indigenous communities."

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Carol Dubé, Joyce Echaquan's husband

"Joyce is dead because she was Indigenous. A woman with seven marvellous children — what she had that was most beautiful was used against her in a system that still allows this kind of tragic situation to happen."

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"To see in this report that which our hearts murmured to us, comforts us a little. Our healing will come through truth, and today, a little piece of this truth at least has seen the light of day."

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Patrick Martin-Ménard, Echaquan-Dubé family lawyer

"What comes out of the report mainly was that Ms. Echaquan’s death was avoidable, and that it was triggered by a combination of deficient health-care and racist prejudices and misconceptions that led her to be labelled in a certain way and led her to being denied the health care she needed.”

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Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador

"Premier Legault makes the mistake of denying the presence of systemic racism in Quebec. No society is immune to this scourge. Why would Quebec be spared? It is no longer a matter of opinion. Systemic racism is now identified in a coroner's report as a determining factor in avoiding tragedies like the one that caused Joyce Echaquan's tragic death and plunged not only her family, her community and her nation into mourning, but all of Quebec."

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Quebec Premier François Legault

“There are a lot of definitions for systemic racism, but let’s take the word “systemic.” If we look in the "Petit Robert" dictionary, it says “relative to a system in its entirety.” For me, a system is something that starts from above. Let’s take the health system, is there something that starts from higher levels and communicates to the entire system that they have to take discriminatory approaches toward Indigenous Peoples? For me, it’s clear that the answer is no.”

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"The message I have for Echaquan’s family and her husband is that we now have evidence that she was a victim of discrimination, racism and prejudices. It’s unacceptable."

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Liberal Leader Dominique Anglade

"I think it's more than a word. If you are a victim of systemic racism and you die from it, your mother dies from it, your child is arrested because of it, I think it means something much deeper than simply a word. It's a problem and we have to name the problem."

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Atikamekw Grand Chief Constant Awashish

"We’re going to keep demonstrating that there is systemic racism here in Quebec as well as in Canada. It’s well-documented. We have a lot of work to do, and I think it starts with the premier in Quebec."

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"What happened with Joyce Echaquan is not isolated. It happens everywhere. I’ve been getting calls from different members of my nation and everywhere else, other people are getting calls as well. Now people are denouncing. Now people are getting an awakening that what Joyce Echaquan was going through, it happens to them and now they are opening up (about) the difficult situation across the province."

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 5, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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