The Coroner's Report On Joyce Echaquan Says Quebec Should Acknowledge Systemic Racism

The Quebec Coroner's Office has released its findings following an inquest into the death of Joyce Echaquan.

Although her death has been ruled accidental, the report says "the racism and prejudice Echaquan faced was certainly a contributing factor in her death" and "her death could have been prevented." The coroner who wrote the report, Gehane Kamel, also recommended that the Quebec government "acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and "make a commitment to help eliminate it."

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The report was released on October 1, one day after Canada's first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and a few days after the anniversary of Echaquan's death.

Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman from Manawan, died at the Centre hospitalier De Lanaudière on September 28, 2020 after posting a Facebook live showing her crying for help as hospital staff made slurs against her. In the video, two women can be heard calling her stupid as well as saying she's only good for sex and that she would be better off dead.

"Efforts are all the more necessary because the findings of this inquiry indicate that Ms. Echaquan was indeed ostracized, that her death was directly related to the care she received during her hospitalization in September 2020," the coroner's report reads.

According to the report, the autopsy revealed that Echaquan died of pulmonary edema, a buildup of fluid in the lungs. The report also outlines how Echaquan's "clinical situation" could have been reversed.

Besides calling on the Quebec government to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism, the coroner made several recommendations for the CISSS de Lanaudière, the Order of Nurses of Quebec and the Ministry of Higher Education, which is responsible for the educational institutions that train physicians, nurses and nursing assistants.

These recommendations include better integrating the hospital's Manawan liaison officer and updating the training curriculum to cover Indigenous patient care, taking into consideration "the realities of Indigenous communities."

You can find more details from the report here.