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Joyce Echaquan and Canada’s Framework of Systematic Racism


By Shwetang Desai


Joyce Echaquan’s death has caused public outrage in Canada, highlighting a framework of systematic racism and prejudice faced by the Indigenous communities in the nation. Joyce Echaquan was suffering from stomach pains and was being treated at the Joliette Hospital when several racist and unacceptable remarks were made towards her. She screamed for help when a staff member called her, “stupid as hell” and another questioned her choices in life, even asking what her children would think of her “behavior.” Several moments later, she passed away. Ms.Echaquan’s relatives state that she had a medical history of heart problems and was administered too much morphine.

The premier of Quebec, Francois Legault deemed the nurse’s remarks to be unacceptable, and the nurse was shortly fired after this incident. Regional health authorities and a forensic pathologist will be conducting two individual investigations to investigate the possibility of death due to negligence. Perry Bellegarde, a prominent first nations politicians tweeted that the discrimination against Indigenous people in Canada’s healthcare system still remains prevalent.

An inquiry led by Jacques Viens, a Quebec Superior Court Justice deemed it impossible to deny the systematic racism in Quebec, especially at Joliette hospital. Many individuals from the Atikamekw nation have agreed that they have experienced racial slurs, racial intolerance, and dismissive treatment at the hospital. This racial injustice suffered by Canada’s indigenous people is appalling yet ignored and dismissed by our society.

Indigenous women in Canada are 12 limes more likely to be killed or disappear than any other were murdered or went missing. Both statistics and anecdotal evidence show the systematic racism that is present in Canada, which stems from a framework of colonialism and societal divide.

The path to an inclusive society, however, starts from the total support and involvement of the government. The premier of Quebec, François Legault, did not acknowledge the presence of systemic racism in Quebec, “When we talk about systemic racism, for me it’s in relation to Black people in the United States, for reasons we know. For me, I don’t see that in Quebec." This denial of systemic racism from the Premier only widens the gap between the Indigenous society, Quebec, and ultimately all of Canada. There needs to be a strong consensus from the government about the reality and negative implications of systemic racism on Canada’s indigenous community.

Carol Dubé, Echaquan’s husband was in tears as he pleaded for justice to the country’s leaders. Mr.Dubé stated that he was convinced his wife due to the systematic racism at the hospital, and said he was here to claim justice. Joyce’s Echaquan’s death serves as an alarming reminder to all Canadians that our country has a deep-rooted framework of systematic racism. Canada’s leaders and citizens must unite to defeat systematic racism and uphold justice for our Indigenous community.


Three key points

  • Joyce Echaquan’s death has caused public outrage in Canada, highlighting a framework of systematic racism and prejudice faced by the indigenous communities in the nation.

  • This racial injustice suffered by Canada’s indigenous people is appalling, yet ignored and dismissed by our society. Indigenous women in Canada are 12 limes more likely to be killed or disappear than any other category of women in Canada.

  • Carol Dubé, Ms.Echaquan’s husband was in tears as he pleaded for justice to the country’s leaders. Canada’s leaders and citizens must unite to defeat systematic racism and uphold justice for our Indigenous community.

Sources

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-54350027

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-joyce-echaquans-widower-blames-systemic-racism-in-quebec-hospital-for/

https://aldianews.com/articles/culture/case-joyce-echaquan-and-fight-indigenous-rights-canada-and-beyond/60697

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/may/31/canada-missing-indigenous-women-cultural-genocide-government-report


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