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Quebec health authority hires Indigenous staff, promises changes after Echaquan death

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. Echaquan died in a Joliette Hospital earlier in the week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

QUEBEC — The Quebec health authority that runs the hospital where an Indigenous woman was mocked before she died says it is taking concrete steps to ensure Atikamekw people receive better care.

Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, died in hospital last September after she filmed staff making derogatory comments about her. The video was shared around the world.

Caroline Barbir, interim CEO of the regional health authority in Lanaudiere, north of Montreal, says the agency is hiring members of the Atikamekw community, who will help improve services to Indigenous people.

She adds that all staff at the health authority will be required to take a sensitivity training program, the content of which she says will be approved by the Atikamekw community.

Paul-Emile Ottawa, the chief of the Manawan Atikamekw Council, says he welcomes the changes.

Earlier today, the Quebec coroner’s office said public hearings into Echaquan’s death will begin May 13 in Joliette, about 75 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press