An indigenous woman captured a nursing staff’s deplorable behavior on Facebook Live before dying on Monday in a Quebec hospital.
The 37-year-old mother of seven recorded the seven-minute video where she was subjected to verbal abuse and ridiculed by the nursing staff as she pleaded for them to help her. The footage captured Echaquan speaking in Atikamekw as at least two nurses belittled her in French.
On this #OrangeShirtDay, remember that this mother of seven had to film her own death at the hands of the people who were supposed to help her.
I am deeply ashamed. We need to do better. #JoyceEchaquan
— Kristina Sigurdson-Legrand (@heytherered) September 30, 2020
A family friend disclosed that Echaquan feared going to the hospital because she’d experienced discrimination during previous visits.
Reginald Echaquan, the woman’s cousin, translated the dialogue with Global News.
“She said, ‘They’re giving me a lot of medication, come and get me, they’re giving me too much medication,” he said.
Echaquan informed the staff that she had a pacemaker due to a heart condition, and the morphine they’d given her could cause complications.
According to the University of Michigan Health website, morphine’s side effects “can slow or stop your breathing, and death may occur.”
Instead of helping the visibly distressed woman, the nurses began taunting her as her breathing became weak.
“You’re stupid as hell,” one woman can be heard saying in French in the Facebook Live video. “Are you done acting stupid? Are you done?”
As Echaquan gasped for air, another nurse doubled down on the insults by referencing her life choices and her children.
“You made some bad choices, my dear. What are your children going to think, seeing you like this, eh,” she asked.
The nurse hurled a final insult before the video ended.
“She’s good at screwing, more than anything else. And we’re paying for this,” she said.
Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault extended his condolences to the Echaquan family during a press conference posted to YouTube. He also confirmed that the hospital terminated one of the nurses, and there were two pending investigations.
When asked about the province’s ongoing issues with racism, he avoided answering the question directly. Legault referenced his recently-appointed “anti-racism task force.”
The task force has no indigenous members.
“I think there’s racism in Quebec, and we have to fight that racism. That nurse, what she said, was totally unacceptable, and she was fired,” Legault said.
“[But] not to think that all nurses, or the entire health care system would’ve had that reaction – anyone would tell you no,” he added.
“I don’t understand why people are trying to stick on one word. I think what is important is to say and all agree that there is some racism in Quebec, and we don’t want that anymore,” he said as he addressed Quebecers.
Although Canadian officials deny that systemic racism exists in Canada in healthcare and law enforcement, an in-depth study published by CBC News stated otherwise.
Between 2000 and 2017, Black people in Toronto accounted for about 8.3% of the population but represented almost half of the fatal police encounters in the city. In Winnipeg, another Canadian city, Indigenous people made up about 10.6% of the population but represented two-thirds of fatal police encounters.