The family of an Indigenous woman subjected to insults as she lay dying in hospital says it will seek justice for her by launching legal proceedings.
Members of Joyce Echaquan’s family, community members and lawyer Jean-Francois Bertrand said in a news release they will announce their legal action Friday at the native friendship centre in Joliette, Que., northeast of Montreal.
Before her death, the 37-year-old Atikamekw mother filmed herself from her hospital bed Monday while she was in clear distress and pleading for help. Two female hospital staff can be seen entering the room and are heard insulting Echaquan, who had been admitted with stomach pain.
The video circulated widely on social media and prompted widespread indignation across the country.
On Thursday, the regional health authority for the Joliette region confirmed that a second health-care worker had been fired in connection with the treatment of Echaquan, a mother of seven.
Quebec’s coroner’s office is investigating Echaquan’s death as is the regional health authority.
Bertrand, a Quebec City-based lawyer, said in a statement the family wants justice for the “racist and degrading” treatment Echaquan suffered in hospital. He said the family is looking for a just and appropriate redress and to “ensure such discriminatory and repeated acts of inconceivable violence against Indigenous people finally cease.”
Paul-Emile Ottawa, chief of the Atikamekw council in Manawan, Que., called Friday for Premier Francois Legault to take immediate measures to make sure what happened to Echaquan doesn’t occur again. He said in a statement he wants a nation-to-nation meeting with the premier.
Ghislain Picard, chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, cancelled a Friday morning meeting he had scheduled with Legault.
The premier confirmed the cancellation on Twitter, calling Picard’s decision unfortunate.
“I am also available to meet with the chiefs of the Atikamekw Nation,” he tweeted. “The door to my office remains open.”
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press
Want to support local journalism? Make a donation here.