The Tragic Death of Joyce Echaquan
Joyce Echaquan was a 37-year old Atikamekw woman that was racially dehumanized at a Joliette hospital in Quebec city on September 28.
Nurses continuously mocked Echaquan’s stomach pain and disregarded the fact that she needed immediate health care. They insulted her through egregious remarks and did not abide by the Hippocratic Oath. This oath ensures that physicians do not harm their patients and always treat their conditions the best they can.
The nurses who belittled her had intentionally administered a large dose of morphine even though they were previously informed of her allergies and history of cardiac arrests. As a result, they caused her death by failing to prioritize their duties and ethics. Further investigation into this case of medical malpractice is crucial.
The video of the event has surfaced on the internet showing Canadian hospital staff offending and verbally abusing her. It also included Echaquan grimacing due to severe stomach pain which had escalated. The video was deemed as “gut-wrenching” (Cecco) and inhumane. This situation demonstrates the significant barriers Indigenous groups endure and the evident inequities within the healthcare system.
Her family members are still unaware of the cause of her death months later and “the unanswered questions are taking a toll”, according to the family's lawyer. However, the local health board has agreed to look into the situation.
There have since been two medical practitioners fired after community outcry and ‘Justice for Joyce’ protests. But, have not had their licenses revoked and their names remain undisclosed.
Equal rights of Indigenous people should be fought for, valued and never disrespected. Therefore, the treatment of all patients must be conscientious regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation and age.
It is evident that minorities experience racial discrimination in many healthcare facilities, what do you think should be done to improve the mindset of employees and overall, create change in the medical system?
Cecco, Leyland. “Canada: Outcry after Video Shows Hospital Staff Taunting Dying Indigenous
Woman.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Sept. 2020, www.theguardian.com/world/2020/sep/30/joyce-echaquan-canada-indigenous-woman-hospital.
“Second Person Fired after Indigenous Woman Taunted before Dying in Quebec Hospital.”
Montreal, 2 Oct. 2020, montreal.ctvnews.ca/second-person-fired-after-indigenous-woman-taunted-before-dying-in-quebec-hospital-1.5 128967.
“A Month after Joyce Echaquan’s Death, her Family is still Waiting for Answers.” CBC News,
28 Oct. 2020,