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Atikamekw leaders taken aback by Quebec’s refusal to adopt measures aimed at improving Indigenous health care

People take part in a protest called ‘Justice for Joyce’ in Montreal, Saturday, October 3, 2020, where they demanded Justice for Joyce Echaquan and an end to all systemic racism. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Atikamekw leaders in Quebec say they are disappointed by the Quebec government’s refusal to adopt measures aimed at improving Indigenous health care this week over a reference to systemic racism in the recommendations.

The Atikamekw of Manawan Council and the Council of the Atikamekw Nation released the set of measures dubbed Joyce’s Principle in a document in mid-November.

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

They’re named for Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw mother of seven who died in hospital in Joliette, Que., in September after filming staff using derogatory slurs against her.

Video of her ordeal circulated widely on social media and prompted widespread indignation across the country.

In the wake of her death, her family and the community called for a series of measures to assure that Indigenous people have equitable access to health services without discrimination.

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READ MORE: Treatment of Indigenous woman in Quebec hospital puts focus on systemic racism

But the Coalition Avenir Québec government balked at a motion presented this week by the Opposition Liberals, citing the reference to systemic racism in the document.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafreniere told reporters Friday the government is committed to adopting the measures in the document, but noted the Legault government’s opposition to the term systemic racism should come as no surprise.

Click to play video 'Quebec opposition parties push for recognition of systemic racism' Quebec opposition parties push for recognition of systemic racism
Quebec opposition parties push for recognition of systemic racism – Nov 27, 2020