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

Felix Townsin, shown here with his sister, Lexi, who died on Oct. 19, 2019. Felix is a big part of a family initiative aimed at finding a cure for Blau Syndrome. (Photo contributed by the Townsin family)
Quest to cure Blau syndrome a family affair

John Stubbs student produces film for late little sister Lexi

An untitled Emily Carr painting of Finlayson Point was donated to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria by brothers Ian and Andrew Burchett. The painting had been in their family for several decades. (Courtesy of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria)
Newly public Emily Carr painting depicts well-known Victoria view

Painting among several donated to Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Soccer player Ethan Finnigan juggles the ball at Oak Bay High. The Grade 12 student was injured much of last year and was relying on his senior year to score a scholarship and play at university. (Travis Paterson/News Staff)
High school athletes remain on sidelines across B.C.

Recruiting for university on hiatus, future unknown

Janet Austin, lieutenant governor of B.C., was presented with the first poppy of the Royal Canadian Legion’s 2020 Poppy Campaign on Wednesday. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
PHOTOS: B.C. Lieutenant Governor receives first poppy to kick off 2020 campaign

Janet Austin ‘honour and a privileged’ to receive the poppy

The street value of the more than one-and-a-quarter kilograms of cocaine seized by VicPD officers was over $150,000. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police seize fentanyl, more than $150,000-worth of cocaine

Charges laid against two Victoria men in months-long investigation

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count jumps by 287, another senior home outbreak

Two more deaths recorded, community outbreak in Okanagan

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Oct. 27

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
Rescued bald eagle that came to life in B.C. man’s car had lead poisoning

Bird is on medication and recovering in rehab centre

The B.C. Centre for Disease control is telling people to keep an eye out for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which thrives in fall weather conditions. (Paul Kroeger/BCCDC)
Highly poisonous death cap mushroom discovered in Comox

This marks first discovery on Vancouver Island outside Greater Victoria area

Cowichan Search and Rescue set up near the Silver Bridge in Duncan on Wednesday morning, Oct. 28, 2020 to rescue a dog from the Cowichan River. (Citizen file)
Cowichan Search and Rescue save dog from icy Cowichan River

Search and Rescue’s swiftwater team was called in

Premier-elect John Horgan and cabinet ministers are sworn in for the first time at Government House in Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)
Pandemic payments have to wait for B.C. vote count, swearing-in

Small businesses advised to apply even if they don’t qualify

A raccoon paid a visit to a Toronto Tim Hortons on Oct. 22, 2020. (shecallsmedrew/Twitter)
Who are you calling a trash panda? Raccoon takes a shift at Toronto Tim Hortons

Tim Hortons said animal control was called as soon they saw the surprise visitor

The duffel bags were found to contain 84 pounds of cocaine, valued at approximately $1.2 million and 198 pounds of methamphetamine, valued at approximately $960,000. Photo courtesy U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
2 men accused of fleeing border agents near U.S.-B.C. border with $2M in drugs

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

Most Read