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Statement on the Death of Joyce Echaquan

September 30, 2020 – The Board of Directors of CASWE-ACFTS denounces the acts of racism suffered by Ms. Joyce Echaquan. We offer our condolences to Ms. Echaquan’s family, the Manawan community, and all Indigenous Peoples and communities.

We ask that the provincial and federal governments and health and social services recognize systemic racism and challenge and dismantle the policies, practices and values that sustain and promote racism.

We wish to express our deep regret for the harms experienced by Indigenous Peoples and communities because of colonizing narratives, practices and policies and offer our support for the call for an inquiry into Ms. Echaquan’s death.

A 37-year-old Atikamekw woman died this week, at a hospital in the Lanaudière region of Québec, after experiencing systemic racism from hospital nursing staff – the very people she was counting on for emergency aid for her severe stomach pain.

According to an article in Lapresse, Joyce Echaquan, a mother of seven children, shared a Facebook video from the stretcher she was tied to before her death, asking friends or family to come and get her from the hospital. The article provides quotes of verbal abuse directed at Ms. Echaquan from the nursing staff. This is what the Indigenous woman experienced in her final moments.

It shouldn’t be a difficult thing to see someone’s humanity,” says Stéphane Grenier, President of CASWE-ACFTS. “When you are vulnerable and in crisis and turn to a hospital for emergency help, you should expect your care to be compassionate, helpful and respectful.”

The way Madame Echaquan was treated in her final moments is nothing short of appalling and is a terrible reminder of the crucial work that needs to be done by each of us, both personally and professionally, when it comes to racism and challenging our views and biases,” says Grenier.

The Canadian Association for Social Work Education – Association canadienne pour la formation en travail social’s vision is grounded in social justice for all. The Board of Directors of CASWE-ACFTS is committed to ensuring social work education in Canada contributes to transforming Canada’s colonial reality (https://caswe-acfts.ca/about-us/our-commitment-to-change).

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For more information, contact:
Stéphane Grenier, President