Canadian nurses suspended for mocking Joyce Echaquan who pleaded for help as she lay dying


Two nurses have been suspended without pay from a Quebec hospital for mocking an indigenous patient. 

The woman, who has not been named, was ‘the subject of intimidation, mockery and harassment’ by the two medical staff at Lanaudière Hospital Center in Joliette, Quebec, on March 12.

The nurses, who have not yet been identified, allegedly compared the patient to another indigenous patient; Joyce Echaquan.  

Echaquan, 37, died at the same Lanaudière Hospital back in September after filming staff cruelly taunting her as she lay writhing in agony – sparking national outrage when the video went viral. 

‘Another situation where an Atikamekw woman… was the subject of intimidation, mockery and harassment,’ the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, wrote in a statement Friday.

‘In the city of Joliette of all places! You would think they would have learned their lessons on how they treat indigenous peoples!

‘The staff from this clinic saw her name and told her ‘I think we’ll just call you Joyce’.’ 

In a statement, the regional health authority in Joliette said it was investigating ‘discriminatory and racist remarks’ made against a member of the Atikamekw community.

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Two nurses have been suspended without pay from a Quebec hospital for mocking an indigenous patient. The Joliette hospital, 70kms north of Montreal, where Joyce Echaquan died has been the scene of another alleged racist incident involving an indigenous woman

The woman was compared to another indigenous patient, Joyce Echaquan, 37, (pictured) who  bravely filmed herself being subjected to racist abuse as she lay dying in agony in Joliette hospital in Quebec last year

The woman was compared to another indigenous patient, Joyce Echaquan, 37, (pictured) who bravely filmed herself being subjected to racist abuse as she lay dying in agony in Joliette hospital in Quebec last year

The woman was compared to another indigenous patient, Joyce Echaquan, 37, (pictured) who  bravely filmed herself being subjected to racist abuse as she lay dying in agony (right) in Joliette hospital in Quebec last year

'Another situation where an Atikamekw woman... was the subject of intimidation, mockery and harassment,' the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, wrote in a statement Friday

‘Another situation where an Atikamekw woman… was the subject of intimidation, mockery and harassment,’ the grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard, wrote in a statement Friday

Caroline Barbir, interim head of the health authority, told the Canadian Press she has asked for a full investigation and for the two nurses to be suspended without pay.

‘I am deeply shocked since I heard the news this morning. We immediately launched an investigation to find out what happened,’ Barbir said on Monday.  

While no formal complaint had been registered about the latest incident, Barbir said she’s asked that a new cultural liaison set up after Echaquan’s death make contact with the victim and try to restore confidence to the local indigenous community.

Echaquan’s death set off shockwaves in Canada after staff at Joliette hospital in Quebec were caught on camera calling her ‘stupid’ as she writhes in pain, moments before her death.  

Echaquan, a member of the Atikamekw Indigenous tribe, used her phone to livestream the nurses’ remarks on Facebook and they were later broadcast on Canadian television network CBC.

The mother-of-seven was admitted to Joliette hospital in Quebec last September with stomach pains. 

During her stay, she filmed staff speaking in French calling her ‘stupid as hell,’ and suggesting she was only good for sex. 

The phone footage captured a nurse saying: ‘Are you done acting stupid? Are you done?’ 

There was an outpouring of grief and anger among the indigenous community of Quebec after Echaquan's death

There was an outpouring of grief and anger among the indigenous community of Quebec after Echaquan’s death

Carol Dube (center), husband of Joyce Echaquan who died at the local hospital over the weekend, and her mother Diane Echaquan Dube, right, attend a vigil in front of the hospital in Quebec in September

Carol Dube (center), husband of Joyce Echaquan who died at the local hospital over the weekend, and her mother Diane Echaquan Dube, right, attend a vigil in front of the hospital in Quebec in September

Another nurse said to her: ‘You made some bad choices, my dear. What are your children going to think, seeing you like this?’

‘She’s good at having sex, more than anything else,’ the other nurse adds.

More than 30,000 people tuned in for an online benefit concert for Echaquan on January 3, which raised US$80,000 for her grieving family.

This month, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Manawan Atikamekw Council complained to the United Nations and asked that it investigate systemic racism in the Canadian Government in response to Echaquan’s death.

Several initiatives to improve indigenous peoples’ access to healthcare have been launched in recent years.

These include a $3.2 million initiative to improve training, and $1.6 million for additional healthcare services to the First Nations governing authorities of Manawan Atikamekw Council and Atikamekw Nation Tribal Council in Quebec. 

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged to overhaul indigenous healthcare prior to his reelection in 2019.

But a pressure group known as the Brian Sinclair Working Group, set up after the death of another patient in 2017, have called Trudeau’s efforts ‘inadequate’.



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