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Quebec to fund new native friendship centre in city where Joyce Echaquan died

A woman kneels during a vigil in front of the hospital where Joyce Echaquan died in Joliette, Que. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. A nurse has been fired after Echaquan, an Indigenous woman, who was dying Monday night in hospital was subjected to degrading remarks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

JOLIETTE, Que. – The Quebec government is investing $3.1 million for a new Native Friendship Centre in a city that was recently shaken by the death of an Indigenous woman in a local hospital.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Ian Lafreniere says in a statement that the new facility in Joliette, Que., will include the centre’s Mirerimowin health clinic, which was launched last month in response to the Indigenous population’s reluctance to seek health services.

Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, died in late September at the Joliette hospital shortly after filming racist insults she was subjected to from a nurse and an orderly.

The release of the video caused an uproar and spurred calls for improved care for Indigenous patients.

Lafreniere says the new centre, to be completed in 2022, will allow the organization to broaden its services, offering consultation offices, a community room and space to promote Indigenous history, arts and culture and a daycare centre.

In a statement, Jennifer Brazeau, executive director of the centre, says the new facility will offer services in a space where the Indigenous population of the region northeast of Montreal will be welcomed with dignity.