Call to Action. L’R des centres de femmes du Québec invites you to use all or excerpts of this letter to call on your local MNAs and demand an end to systemic racism in Québec. For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org. For updates, follow the Quebec Native Women page on Facebook.
Montreal, September 29, 2020
To the Honourable Premier François Legault,
We call on you today in response to the criminal negligence of nurses at Joliette hospital that led to the death of Joyce Echaquan. This negligence demonstrates once again the pervasiveness of the social injustices rooted in the province’s public institutions. Murder is inadmissible. Urgent action must be taken. Joyce Echaquan died alone, tied to a hospital bed. The systemic racism rooted in the province’s public services indeed led to the criminally negligent actions of hospital staff.
The Québec government can no longer ignore the injustices to which people of colour are subjected in our institutions. This holds all the more true today, a year minus a day after the release of the report by the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec. Without a shadow of a doubt, Joyce Echaquan lost her life because she was an Indigenous woman. The racism coming from the mouths of the nurses on staff caught on video by Joyce herself hours prior to her death attest to it.
These events open up a great many questions. Much like the murders of black men and women by police, it is deplorable that the murder of Indigenous women must be caught on video to be given credence. How many Indigenous women die in the shadows without any kind of justice being served? The systemic racism that pervades our institutions not only kills those who are marginalized; it also makes justice inaccessible to them. If there is to be any justice for Joyce’s death, those involved must be held responsible for their crimes to the full extent of the law. Seeking justice for Joyce also means ensuring that the inquiry into her death is duly independent and free of bias. It also means recognizing the existence of institutional violence, revising institutional practices and processes that allow this type of violence to exist, and ensuring that all Indigenous women and women of colour who are made victims of these kinds of abuses have equal and safe access to the justice system. As outlined in the “Calls for Justice” issued by the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, it is imperative that Indigenous communities be truly granted justice.
Premier Legault, the time has come to uphold your responsibilities and put an end to the violence perpetrated by state employees. The Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms tells us that “Every human being has a right to life, and to personal security, inviolability and freedom” and also tells us that they “also possesses juridical personality.” As basis tenets of the society in which we all live, you are bound to uphold and defend these rights and freedoms.
As such, we support the demands made by Joyce’s family, by the Manawan community, and by the FAQ-QNW (Québec Native Women). We demand that systemic racism be formally acknowledged by the Québec government. We also demand that the Québec government immediately implement the demands made by these parties. We also insist that there be justice for Joyce Echaquan. Her death must serve as an example for each and every member and employee of the state’s medical system. We support the firing of the nurse having caused Joyce’s death as well as the launch of an inquiry by the CISSS and the coroner but remind you that there cannot be two systems of justice. Murder is murder. Therefore, we demand that the nurses and staff of Joliette hospital responsible for Joyce Echaquan’s death be arrested and brought to trial.
The Executive Committee of L’R des centres de femmes du Québec,
Diane Messier, President and representative for Lanaudière
Geneviève Legault, Vice President
Gayl Rhicard, Treasurer