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Federal government allots $2M to help Atikamekw Nation implement Joyce’s Principle

Click to play video: 'Ottawa adopts Joyce’s Principle to guarantee health care access without discrimination' Ottawa adopts Joyce’s Principle to guarantee health care access without discrimination
WATCH: Quebec indigenous groups have called for equitable access to healthcare following the death of Joyce Echaquan at a Joliette hospital in October. The provincial government refused to adopt Joyce's Principle into legislation on the fact that government officials say they do not have the same definition of systemic racism. As Olivia O'Malley reports, the federal government is now, months later, funding the initiative in her name – Feb 10, 2021

The federal government announced Wednesday morning that it is allotting $2 million dollars to help the Atikamekw Nation begin implementation of Joyce’s Principle.

The document was written by Indigenous leaders calling for equitable access to health care following Joyce Echaquan’s tragic death.

Thirty-seven-year-old Echaquan filmed herself lying in a Joliette Hospital in September as staff uttered racial slurs towards her, the last words she would hear before her death.

“It’s important for all people and instances of leadership to acknowledge the existence of systemic racism within the health-care system and to start making the concrete gestures and actions that are needed,” said Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller.

Read more: Atikamekw groups call for equitable access to health care following Joyce Echaquan’s death

With the federal government’s help, her community and family are hoping the principle named in her honour will give other Indigenous people access to fair and equal health care, that she did not receive.

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“We all have the right to dignity; we are all human. Moreover, I think that Joyce’s Principle should also apply to all minorities in Canada,” said her Echaquan’s husband, Carol Dubé.

Click to play video: 'Atikamekw leaders hope Joyce’s Principle will improve health care for First Nations' Atikamekw leaders hope Joyce’s Principle will improve health care for First Nations
Atikamekw leaders hope Joyce’s Principle will improve health care for First Nations – Nov 16, 2020

Both Echaquan and her husband are from the Atikamekw Nation, whose leaders will implement Joyce’s Principle through concrete actions.

“We have to work on awareness, education and we need to make people understand that they don’t need to be scared of us, that they don’t need to think bad things about us,” said Council of the Atikamekw Nation Grand Chief Constant Awashish.

Read more: Quebec opposition parties urge provincial government to adopt Joyce’s Principle

He said members did not feel safe when they needed medical attention after Echaquan’s death. So along with mental health services, they are looking into increasing services offered in the community such as a birthing centre and a place where members can do dialysis.

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In a statement to Global News, the Quebec government said Joyce’s Principle will become a guiding force in implementing equal access to health care for all Indigenous people in Quebec.

Awashish says the council is open to collaborating with the provincial government, as they work towards their goal of a stronger society by defending First Nations rights, in Echaquan’s name.

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

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