Coroner investigating Joyce Echaquan’s death calls on Quebec government to recognize systemic racism

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The Quebec government must recognize the existence of systemic racism within its institutions, according to the coroner tasked with investigating the death of Joyce Echaquan.

The Atikamekw woman, a mother of seven, died on Sept. 28, 2020, moments after she recorded footage of herself in hospital as health-care staff hurled racist remarks at her.

Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of Echaquan’s death, which sparked outrage, protests and repeated calls for the province to recognize systemic racism.

A three-week coroner’s inquiry into her death was held last spring.

The top recommendation in Quebec coroner Gehane Kamel’s report calls for the province to acknowledge that systemic racism exists and “make the commitment to contribute to its elimination.”

Although Echaquan’s death has been ruled accidental — she died of pulmonary edema — the “racism and prejudice Ms. Echaquan faced” contributed to her death, the report said.

“It is therefore my duty, as coroner, to do everything within my power to avoid having another member of the Indigenous community or any other origin receive care such as the kind that was offered to Ms. Echaquan,” the report read.

Premier François Legault has repeatedly denied the existence of systemic racism in Quebec.

This story will be updated.



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