Death of Joyce Echaquan — Premier François Legault extends on behalf of the Québec government an official apology to the family and loved ones of Joyce Echaquan

Pictured: The late Joyce Echaquan, Atikamekw, broadcast a Facebook Live video of racist Quebec hospital staff uttering anti-Indigenous slurs before her death.(Photo: Facebook)

Press Pool

Québec public service failed in its duty to Ms. Echaquan

News Release

Cabinet du premier ministre

On the occasion of a motion tabled in the National Assembly, Québec Premier François Legault apologized to the family and loved ones of Joyce Echaquan, who died in troubling, horrible circumstances, and to the members of the Atikamekw community of Manawan.

Premier Legault noted that we must not be afraid to say that Québec public service failed in its duty to Ms. Echaquan. The Québec government has the duty to offer the same dignity and respect to every individual, regardless of origin, sex, or skin colour.

The government is determined to shed light on the circumstances surrounding Joyce Echaquan's tragic death. The coroner's office has launched a public inquiry, in addition to an investigation by the Centre intégré de santé et de services sociaux (CISSS) de Lanaudière.

The incident at the Hôpital de Joliette is not, unfortunately, an isolated case. Different levels of government have for decades subjected the Aboriginal peoples to discrimination. The Premier noted with regret that even today, the Aboriginal peoples in Québec are subject to racist acts.

He deplored the continued existence of excessive prejudice against the First Nations. Cases of discrimination over the decades and the centuries have left their mark.

The solution lies, in part, in enhancing knowledge of Aboriginal realities. Premier Legault also intends to work diligently to establish relations of mutual respect with the Aboriginal nations and to maintain a nation-to-nation dialogue to ensure that we grow together as peoples.

The Québec government is reiterating its intention to concretely combat all forms of discrimination and racism wherever they appear, first by drawing inspiration from the recommendations of the Viens report and second, in light of the report that the Groupe d'action contre le racisme will submit this fall.

"One week ago, we learned of the horrible circumstances surrounding Ms. Echaquan's death. The recording of her last moments is hard to bear. As a Quebecer, it hurts me to hear it and to realize that this can happen here. I know that apologies and words will not erase what has happened, but I do hope that they will afford some comfort to Ms. Echaquan's loved ones. Words alone cannot suffice. In the coming weeks and months, we will, above all, act so that five or 10 years from now, we will remember Joyce Echaquan's tragedy as the moment when we collectively took action."

François Legault, Premier of Québec

"I would like to reiterate my sincere condolences to Joyce Echaquan's family and to the Atikamekw Nation. More than ever, we must act urgently, and the Québec government is prepared to go forward with concrete measures. Joyce Echaquan's death must not be in vain. I am deeply saddened by it. To help the Aboriginal peoples we must listen to them, understand them, reach out to them, and consult each other nation to nation."

Sylvie D'Amours, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs

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(Image: quebec.ca)
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