Indigenous Woman Harassed By Hospital Staff On Her Deathbed

These things still happen in 2020.


This year served us plenty of painful lessons on racism and privilege, including tragic deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And yet some people, including the staff from Joliette hospital in Quebec, Canada, still don’t understand that treating others with respect, in spite of their race, is pretty fundamental.   

Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Indigenous woman of the Atikamekw Nation of Manawan, mother of seven, arrived to the hospital on Monday, due to the stomach pain. The nurses, who were supposed to take care of her, called her “stupid as hell,” criticized her life choices, taunted her and asked what her children thought of her. Echaquan’s dreadful experience was disclosed to the public as she live-streamed it from the hospital bed. Shortly after, she passed away.  Warning: This video contains disturbing content. Discretion advised.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault publicly commended the nurses’ racist behavior and promised to launch a through investigation of Echaquan’s death. But her story is not the only example of systematic racism in Quebec. Indigenous Services Minister, Marc Miller and the Assembly of First Nations national chief, Perry Bellegarde agree that this sort of discrimination is prevalent in the health care system. Only earlier this year the hospital staff in British Colombia allegedly made bets on the blood alcohol content of the Indigenous patients. This explains the Indigenous community’s poor health condition, illustrated by 2015 report “First Peoples, Second Class Treatment,” as they often refrain from visiting hospitals.  

The last moments of Joyce Echaquan’s life were absolute horror but her recording might open the world’s eyes to the issue of systematic racism in and beyond Quebec. We want to believe it will, at least. 


Next Up, Breonna Taylor Has Been Failed By The System – Here’s How You Can Help