A picture of Joyce Echaquan is seen during a vigil in front of the hospital where she died in Joliette, Que. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

A picture of Joyce Echaquan is seen during a vigil in front of the hospital where she died in Joliette, Que. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

Advocates marking MMIW remembrance day note death of Indigenous woman in hospital

Joyce Echaquan died shortly after filming herself from her hospital bed about 70km north of Montreal

Those wondering whether Indigenous women’s rights are still being violated need only look to the death of Joyce Echaquan for their answer, advocates said Sunday as they participated in an annual vigil for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, filmed hospital staff insulting her on Monday while she lay dying in her hospital bed in Joliette, Que., in what advocacy organizations said was yet another example of the sort of systemic racism that leaves the disappearances of Indigenous women and girls unsolved.

“Violence against them is still present, and last week we had yet another horrific example of this,” the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador said in a news release that renewed a call for government action to implement a national inquiry’s recommendations on the issue.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, in tweets Sunday marking the day of remembrance, commended crowds of protesters who marched through her city’s downtown on Saturday to demand justice for Echaquan, a 37-year-old mother of seven.

Plante called for people to be allies of First Nations to end systemic racism and discrimination, and to commit to reconciliation.

Echaquan died shortly after filming herself from her hospital bed about 70km north of Montreal, last Monday while she was in clear distress and pleading for help.

Two nurses have since been fired, and the coroner will hold an inquest into the incident.

READ MORE: Quebec coroner’s office to launch public inquest into Joyce Echaquan’s death

Those participating in Sunday’s virtual Sisters in Spirit vigil lit candles to honour Indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing.

Perry Bellegarde, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, shared a photo of a candle, noting the significance of remembering lost women.

“I stand with the survivors, families, and all of our allies trying to push for better lives for First Nations Women,” Bellegarde wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also shared a message for families and victims.

“For far too long, we have failed Indigenous women and girls,” Trudeau’s Twitter statement read. “This ongoing national tragedy must end, and we won’t stop working with you until it does.”

The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls delivered its final report in June 2019. It described the tragedy as genocide, and concluded that decades of systemic racism and human rights violations played a role in the deaths and disappearances of hundreds of Indigenous women and girls.

This past June, the Liberal government delayed the intended release of its national action plan on the inquiry’s recommendations, saying the pandemic was slowing the process down.

Lorraine Whitman, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada said while it’s disappointing that the government did not deliver the plan within one year of the national inquiry’s final report, it’s time to focus on what needs to be done to make Indigenous women safer.

Whitman shared some of the recommended measures her association submitted to Ottawa as it develops the plan. They include a new investigative unit for cold cases and a database monitoring the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

“The tabling of the first version of the national action plan will not stop the violence overnight but I am confident it will start us down the road to creating a country that is a safer place for Indigenous women,” Whitman said.

The Ontario Native Women’s Association also published a report Sunday detailing its recommendations for ending the violence.

Those recommendations include investment in local programs supporting mothers involved with the child welfare system, better data collection about human trafficking and development of culturally sensitive victims’ sevices.

The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

IndigenousMMIWG

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

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Ponoka youth fills backpacks for less fortunate

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County, donated 20 backpacks he filled with necessities

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

The Calnash Ag Event Centre will be closed for competitions until at least Jan. 21, 2020. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
Outlook for Calnash in 2021 a waiting game

Ag event centre losing thousands during shutdown

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read