Joyce Echaquan's death in September of 2020 in the hospital in Joliette, Que., is now the subject of two investigations. (Facebook)

Death of Indigenous woman in Quebec hospital being investigated

The circumstances of the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, at a hospital in Joliette, Qc., on Monday night will be investigated, according to an announcement from Quebec’s coroner’s office Tuesday. 

Echaquan, a mother of seven, died shortly after filming a live recording of herself on Facebook where she said that she had been overmedicated. 

“Come help me, they’re drugging me,” Echaquan said in the video. 

According to Echaquan’s husband, she had a fragile heart and she couldn’t take morphine because of that. 

Towards the end of the video, nurses or attendants came to Echaquan’s bedside and said that they would take care of her because she couldn’t take care of herself. 

In the video, a hospital staff member is heard telling Echaquan, “You’re stupid as hell,” and another is heard saying that Echaquan has made bad choices in life. 

One of the nurses was dismissed, says Legault

Quebec’s Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sylvie D’Amours, said that an investigation by the Coroner’s Office is currently underway, as well as an internal investigation into the local hospital authority, the CISSS de Lanaudiere.

“We want to know what happened,” D’Amours said in a statement. 

“Regardless of the results of this investigation, the statements heard are unacceptable and intolerable.”

As well, Quebec Premier François Legault announced that a nurse had been fired.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Legault offered his condolences and said that the nurses did something unacceptable.

Spokespersons for the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Youth Network (FNQYLN) called on the Quebec government to recognize the existence of systemic racism in Quebec institutions.

“We, the spokespersons for the FNQYLN, are outraged to note that First Nations are still the targets of mistreatment and racism in Quebec public services,” they said in a statement

The FNQYLN also called on the Quebec government to implement calls for action and justice on the Viens Commission (CERP) report, which recommended that the Quebec government apologize for their treatment of Indigenous people.

Canada’s federal minister calls into a full investigation

Canada’s Minister of Indigenous affairs, Marc Miller, also reacted to the news in a tweet on Monday night, calling for a full investigation of the “shocking events in and around the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan.”

A vigil in memorial of Echaquan is being organized at the Joliette hospital for Tuesday evening. 

With files from Radio-Canada, Fanny Bédard, Valérie Boisclair, CBC News and Alison Northcott

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