Reaction to the death of Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old wife and mother of seven children, was swift.
“I can’t believe this happened in our province. I was outraged, I was sickened, I was saddened,” Greg Kelley, (MNA – LIB – Jacques-Cartier) said after watching a video of nurses uttering racial epithets at the Indigenous woman the same day she died in a hospital in Joliette.
Words such as “She’s only good for sex,” could be heard on the video.
Echaquan was admitted to the hospital on Saturday complaining of stomach pains. She died two days later — the same day the video was recorded with the racial slurs being made.
One nurse has been fired and three separate investigations have been launched including one by the Quebec coroner’s office.
Several Indigenous communities are outraged with the actions of the nurses.
“She obviously needed help. And they were ignoring her or at least treating her probably less than they would their own family,” Kenneth Deer, of the Mohawk Nation of Kahnawake told Global News.
And in a 240-word statement issued by the Native Women’s Association of Canada, President Lorraine Whitman writes, “It was with disgust that we heard a nurse, a woman who was supposed to care for her, utter racial slurs.”
Signs calling for ‘Justice for Joyce’ could be seen at a vigil held Tuesday night for Echaquan.
One medical malpractice lawyer says the family has the legal right to the medical records of Echaquan from the hospital as well as the incident report detailing the events that led to Echaquan’s death.
A civil lawsuit against the hospital could be launched but pressing criminal charges against those involved could be a lot more difficult because of the high burden of proof according to Patrick Martin-Ménard, an attorney with Ménard, Martin avocats.
“It’s very rare to see criminal charges in relation to medical events,” he told Global News.
The coroner’s office refuses to comment on the specifics of the case but a spokesperson says, in general, a report can take up to ten months before being published.