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Joyce Echaquan death: Lawyer leading Indigenous mortality committee to lead public inquiry

Click to play video: 'Calling out problem of racism at Joliette Hospital' Calling out problem of racism at Joliette Hospital
WATCH: A week after the public death of an Indigenous woman at the Joliette Hospital, Premier François Legault offered up his apologies to Joyce Echaquan's family. While the apology was a good first step in the eyes of the Atikamekw community, it isn't enough. They want the province to recognize that racism in the healthcare system is a persistent problem. As Global's Anne Leclair reports, the mistreatment of Joyce Echaquan was not an isolated incident – Oct 7, 2020

Coroner Géhane Kamel, already in charge of a committee on mortality in Indigenous communities, will be responsible for the public inquiry into the death of Joyce Echaquan.

The Legault government made the request on Saturday amid mounting calls for justice for the Echaquan family.

Read more: Quebec orders public inquiry into death of Joyce Echaquan as Montrealers call for justice

The 37-year old mother of seven, died on Sept. 28 at the Joliette Hospital, after suffering degrading insults from two employees. Shortly before her death, Echaquan of the Atikamekw community of Manawan, captured the interaction on her cell phone and posted the video live on Facebook.

Quebec’s chief coroner Pascale Déry, said Wednesday that she has appointed Kamel, a lawyer, to conduct the inquest.

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“It is appropriate for Kamel to preside over this investigation since she is also responsible for the Committee on Mortality in Native and Inuit Communities, a multi-party committee recently set up by the Coroner’s Office,” said Descary.

Counsel for the case will be Dave Kimpton, who will be seconded by Julie Roberge.

A public inquest allows the coroner to summon witnesses and hear from interested parties.

Read more: ‘Justice for Joyce’: Family of Indigenous woman who died in Quebec hospital announces lawsuit

The objective, however, is not to rule on the civil or criminal liability of anyone, but rather to determine the causes and circumstances of death and to formulate, if necessary, recommendations in order to avoid further deaths

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The hearings will take place in 2021.

— With files from The Canadian Press’ Stephanie Marin and Global’s Annabelle Olivier

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