Death of Joyce Echaquan

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Death of Joyce Echaquan
DateSeptember 28, 2020 (2020-09-28)
LocationCentre 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.


Echaquan beside a lake in July 1999

Echaquan, a mother of seven from Manawan, had been frequently visiting the hospital since 2014.[1] She had prior heart complications that required a pacemaker.[2]

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.[1] 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.[3]


Echaquan was admitted to the hospital on September 26, 2020, for stomach pains.[4] She was restrained to her bed[5] and given morphine on September 28, despite her concerns that she would have an adverse reaction to it.[2]

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,[5] where she quietly responded with: "That's why I came here."[6] Echaquan was also told that she is only "good for sex," the employees were the ones "paying for this,"[5] and that she was "stupid as hell."[4] She died later that day. According to her family, she was allergic to morphine.[3]

One employee, a nurse, was dismissed from the hospital on September 29.[6] A second employee, an orderly, was dismissed on October 1.[7]

Previous incident[edit]

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.[8]


The premier of Quebec, François Legault, condemned the medical staff's comments about Echaquan and called them "racist".[9] However, he denied the existence of systemic racism in Quebec and he also claimed that he was not involved in her death.[5]

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the incident "the worst form of racism" and "systemic racism."[10]

Marc Miller, the Canadian federal Minister of Indigenous Services, met Echaquan's son, Thomas-James, and apologized to her family for the incident.[11]

The director of the Lanaudière health board Daniel Castonguay was removed from his position in December 2020.[12] 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.[13]


The Quebec coroner's office confirmed on September 29 that they would be investigating the circumstances of Echaquan's death.[6] The hearings are expected to begin in 2021.[14] The local health authority, CISSS de Lanaudière, also has launched its own investigation.[15]

The Minister of Indigenous Services confirmed October 8, that a meeting of Federal ministers and Indigenous leaders is planned.[16] 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.[17]


  1. ^ a b Kestler-D’Amours, Jillian (October 6, 2020). "Indigenous Peoples Fear Racism in Hospitals. Joyce Echaquan's Death Made It Worse". VICE. Retrieved October 7, 2020.
  2. ^ a b Kirkup, Kirsty; Thanh Ha, Tu (September 29, 2020). "Indigenous woman records slurs, taunts of Quebec hospital staff before her death". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Leavitt, Sarah; Page, Julia; Shingler, Benjamin (October 1, 2020). "Racism at Quebec hospital reported long before troubling death of Atikamekw woman". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved December 8, 2020.
  4. ^ a b Shingler, Benjamin (September 20, 2020). "Investigations launched after Atikamekw woman records Quebec hospital staff uttering slurs before her death". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c d Feith, Jesse (September 30, 2020). "Indigenous woman records slurs by hospital staff before her death". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  6. ^ a b c Marin, Stephanie (September 29, 2020). "Que. nurse fired, coroner to investigate after dying Indigenous woman taunted in hospital". CTV News. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  7. ^ Harrold, Max (October 1, 2020). "Second person fired after Indigenous woman taunted before dying in Quebec hospital". CTV News. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  8. ^ Feith, Jesse (October 1, 2020). "Hospital staff ignored Echaquan's pleas for help in August, woman says". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved October 1, 2020.
  9. ^ "Joyce Echaquan: Outcry in Canada over treatment of dying indigenous woman". BBC. September 30, 2020. Retrieved September 30, 2020.
  10. ^ "Outcry grows over Canada indigenous woman's death". BBC News. October 1, 2020.
  11. ^ Émilie Bergeron (October 6, 2020). "Joyce Echaquan: Le ministre Miller a eu une rencontre déchirante avec sa famille" (in French). TVA Nouvelles. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  12. ^ "Former regional health director denies knowing of racism at Joliette hospital". CBC News. May 28, 2021.
  13. ^ "Joyce Echaquan's husband brings courtroom to tears as he pleads for change". CBC News. June 1, 2021.
  14. ^ "In heartfelt video, Joyce Echaquan's husband thanks those who have supported his family". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  15. ^ "Investigations launched after Atikamekw woman records Quebec hospital staff uttering slurs before her death". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  16. ^ "Federal ministers, Indigenous leaders plan to discuss systemic racism in health system". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  17. ^ "Family of Joyce Echaquan planning legal action over her death in Quebec hospital". CBC News. October 2, 2020.

See also[edit]