Death of Joyce Echaquan
|Date||September 28, 2020|
|Location||Centre hospitalier de Lanaudière, Saint-Charles-Borromée, Quebec, Canada|
Joyce Echaquan was a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman who died on September 28, 2020, in the Centre hospitalier de Lanaudière in Saint-Charles-Borromée, Quebec. Before her death, she recorded a Facebook Live video that showed her screaming in distress and healthcare workers abusing her.
Due to Echaquan distrusting medical staff and not being fluent in French, she would record Facebook Live videos during her hospital visits and have a cousin translate for her. Another cousin said that Echaquan would often talk about medical staff seeming "fed up" with her and would only make sure she was not in pain, rather than actually treating her.
Echaquan was admitted to the hospital on September 26, 2020, for stomach pains. She was restrained to her bed and given morphine on September 28, despite her concerns that she would have an adverse reaction to it.
Echaquan live-streamed for seven minutes on September 28. During the Livestream, at least two hospital employees are heard insulting her in French. While Echaquan was moaning in pain, an employee asked her if she is "done acting stupid." Another employee told Echaquan that she "made some bad choices" and asked what her children would be thinking if they saw her, where she quietly responded with: "That's why I came here." Echaquan was also told that she is only "good for sex," the employees were the ones "paying for this," and that she was "stupid as hell." She died later that day. According to her family, she was allergic to morphine.
Another incident where Echaquan was mistreated by hospital staff happened in late August 2020.
33-year-old Jennifer Mac Donald, a patient attendant at a local Alzheimer's centre who was at the hospital to support her father, overheard Echaquan screaming in a nearby cubicle and expressing concerns about her treatment. Mac Donald described Echaquan's medical attendants as "indifferent and verbally aggressive," she said they were ignoring her pleas, and she also overheard a nurse ask: "Will she ever shut up?" At one point, she approached Echaquan in order to see if she could help her, but the staff told her to "mind her own business."
Mac Donald did not know that the woman who was being mistreated in August was Echaquan until she saw the Facebook Live video and recognized her.
The premier of Quebec, François Legault, condemned the medical staff's comments about Echaquan and called them "racist". However, he denied the existence of systemic racism in Quebec and he also claimed that he was not involved in her death.
The director of the Lanaudière health board Daniel Castonguay was removed from his position in December 2020. The new CEO of the health board since April 2021, Maryse Poupart, said she was a "person of action" and gave condolences to Echaquan's family while promising to prioritize relations with Indigenous patients.
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The Quebec coroner's office confirmed on September 29 that they would be investigating the circumstances of Echaquan's death. The hearings are expected to begin in 2021. The local health authority, CISSS de Lanaudière, also has launched its own investigation.
The Minister of Indigenous Services confirmed October 8, that a meeting of Federal ministers and Indigenous leaders is planned. The meeting will include Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett, Health Minister Patty Hajdu, Justice Minister David Lametti and Minister of Rural Economic Development Maryam Monsef.
Echaquan's family is planning to take legal action.
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- "Former regional health director denies knowing of racism at Joliette hospital". CBC News. May 28, 2021.
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- "Investigations launched after Atikamekw woman records Quebec hospital staff uttering slurs before her death". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
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- "Family of Joyce Echaquan planning legal action over her death in Quebec hospital". CBC News. October 2, 2020.