Two Quebec nurses suspended after allegedly mocking death of Indigenous woman

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MONTREAL — Two Quebec nurses have been suspended without pay after allegedly mocking an Indigenous woman at a public clinic in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.

The incident is alleged to have taken place on Friday in the same city where another Indigenous woman, Joyce Echaquan, died in hospital last September after she filmed staff making derogatory comments about her. The video was shared around the world.

Ghislain Picard, grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, first publicized the story on Facebook, saying the nurses allegedly told an Indigenous patient they would call her "Joyce" in reference to the 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died.

Caroline Barbir, interim head of the regional health authority in Joliette, says she was shocked to hear about the incident and asked for the two employees to be rapidly identified and suspended without pay.

She says that while the alleged victim did not file a formal complaint, she says she understands that members of the Atikamekw community lack trust in the province's health system.

Barbir says she has asked a cultural liaison — hired as part of a series of measures implemented at the regional health authority after Echaquan's death — to communicate with the alleged victim and to determine the facts.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021.

The Canadian Press