People take part in a protest called ‘Justice for Joyce’ in Montreal, Saturday, October 3, 2020, where they demanded justice for Joyce Echaquan and an end to all systemic racism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Quebec premier formally apologizes to Joyce Echaquan’s family

The Indigenous mother died in hospital while filming staff making degrading comments about her

Quebec Premier Francois Legault stood in the legislature Tuesday and formally apologized on behalf of the government to the family of an Indigenous woman subjected to verbal abuse as she lay dying in a hospital.

His apology came the same day a private funeral was scheduled for Joyce Echaquan in the Atikamekw community of Manawan, about 250 kilometres north of Montreal.

The 37-year-old mother of seven died in hospital in Joliette, Que., last week, after she filmed herself in distress and pleading for help in a video that also captured hospital staff making degrading comments about her.

“I want, on behalf of the Quebec state, to offer my apologies to the family, loved ones and the community of Joyce Echaquan,” Legault said.

“Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated case,” the premier added. “There continue to be a lot of racist acts against Indigenous people in Quebec, and it’s not by chance. For decades, Indigenous people have been subjected to discrimination by different levels of government.”

The video, filmed from Echaquan’s hospital bed northeast of Montreal, triggered widespread indignation, protest marches and vigils across Canada.

In Ottawa, a minute of silence was held for Echaquan following question period Tuesday.

Legault met with the grand chief of the Atikamekw Nation on Monday and promised better training throughout the hospital network as well as a public awareness campaign on the importance of fighting racism.

But while his government has taken action that includes opening a public inquiry into Echaquan’s death, the premier has consistently maintained that systemic racism doesn’t exist in Quebec.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

IndigenousRacial injustice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Midway RCMP say a man was filmed by a clandestine trail-camera last Spring spreading deer bait on a Rock Creek property without the owner’s permission. Photo courtesy of Midway RCMP
Midway RCMP want to interview suspected poacher

A clandestine trail-camera shows a man spreading deer bait on a Rock Creek property without permission

Midway RCMP’s Cpl. Phil Peters said the driver of this 2006 Honda Civic is lucky to be alive after her car landed upside down in Norwegian Creek Fri. morning, Oct. 30. Photo: Cpl. Phil Peters
Car flips into creek near Midway

Midway RCMP still investigating Friday morning’s crash which left the driver with minor injuries

NAV CANDA is considering closing its station at the West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada considering closing station at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization is conducting a service review at Castlegar’s airport

There have been no confirmed COVID cases among SD51 students since the school year got underway Sept. 10, according to School District 51. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Student absences spiked four times in Boundary schools in October

There have been no cases of COVID-19 in district schools, says Superintendent Ken Minette

Fire Chiefs Heriot and Osellame were recognized by the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. Monday, Oct. 19. File photo
Boundary Fire Chiefs given top honour for fire service

Fire Chiefs Heriot and Osellame were recognized by the Fire Chiefs Association of B.C. Monday, Oct. 19

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read