"Today, it is important to recognize the systemic racism against First Nations and Inuit within the health and social services network in order to put in place structuring actions to promote a more egalitarian and fairer relationship between these communities and nurses," said a statement by Luc Mathieu, president of the OIIQ.
The organization said that, after Echaquan's death, it made a "firm commitment" to prevent similar acts of racism by health care providers, as well as to rebuild trust with Indigenous communities to ensure they get the safe medical care they are entitled to.
In order to strengthen nurses' knowledge on Indigenous relations in health care, the OIIQ said it tasked its education committee with evaluating nurses' initial training in intercultural relations and cultural safety for First Nations and Inuit patients.
The organization also said it is taking necessary steps to implement continuing education activities for nurses on the same topics.
The report recommended that Quebec acknowledge systemic racism. It also said racism and prejudice played a role in Echaquan's death.
"The only place where I don't agree is when we say that there's a 'system' because for me a 'system' is coming from upstairs, coming from the top people, and I don't see this in the health care network, for example," Legault said at a press conference on Tuesday, following the release of the coroner's report.
"What happened to Mrs. Echaquan is terrible [...] and few employees, not only one, didn't deliver the right services to her."
He reiterated that people who believe in systemic racism in Quebec don't have the same definition that he does.
"We don't have a system [of racism], top to bottom, and it's a question of fact," he said.
He emphasized the need to "stop dividing Quebecers" with arguments about systemic racism.
"Even [the coroner who wrote the report] Mrs. Kahmel, she's saying that we have not to put all the emphasis only on words. We have to put emphasis on actions to change the situation and, on that, I fully agree," said Legault.
"I'm not sure what it's like to see your daughter, your sister, your mother, your friend, your lover disappear from one day to the next without a trace. And on top of that, to have the impression that your government doesn't really care, or at least not enough. No one should have to go through that in Quebec," Legault continued.
"I'm convinced that the vast majority of Quebecers are ready to fight racism."
"As such, we want to encourage everyone to approach September 30 as a day of action. Reflection is not enough - participating, listening and supporting Indigenous people, who are still reeling from the multi-generational trauma of residential school, is a proactive stance to commemorate this day."
Many people at the march wore orange shirts, a symbol of truth and reconciliation. Orange Shirt Day, a grassroots movement that commemorated residential schools and honoured their survivors, was the precursor to the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, and some people still refer to it by its original name.
"Joyce Echaquan lost her life because somebody thought she didn't matter," said Ellen Gabriel, a Mohawk activist and artist from Kanehsatà:ke Nation, addressing the crowd. "Don't make this the last demonstration you come to. Don't make this the last thing you do for those children who never came home."
"We've been saying it for weeks, but François Legault seems to have less and less respect for people who don't think like he does," Nadeau-Dubois said.
Nadeau-Dubois was referring to a National Assembly meeting that took place on September 28, the anniversary of Joyce Echaquan's death.
At the meeting, Nadeau-Dubois asked Legault why his government would not implement the Principle, which "aims to guarantee to all Indigenous people the right of equitable access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services."
Legault said he takes issue only with the Principle's call for the government to recognize systemic racism — a term Legault rejects.
"We agree that there is some racism in Quebec and we need to fight it," Legault said at the National Assembly. "But now is not the time to divide Quebecers with certain words [...] so let's bring Quebecers together instead of being radical."
Legault doubled down on his statement at a press conference on September 29 where he went on to accuse Nadeau-Dubois of trying to score political "points" by bringing up systemic racism.
"I think that the majority of Quebec is ready to listen to our Indigenous brothers and sisters and recognize how they experience daily life," Nadeau-Dubois said on Instagram.
"It troubles me that in the middle of a pandemic, the premier twists the meaning of words of people who don't think like he does."