two years later, the issue of systemic racism remains
Although Joyce Echaquan’s family was holding a vigil in her homage to Manawan, a vigil bringing together more than sixty people was held at Place du Canada to commemorate her memory two years after her death in tragic circumstances. Beyond the tributes, it is the importance of recognizing the existence of systemic racism which was at the heart of many speeches.
The ceremony began with an opening speech by Ellen Gabriel, a well-known Aboriginal activist. This was followed by numerous speeches by members of the Aboriginal communities and members of the Aboriginal medical personnel.
Director of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter, Nakuset spoke about the systemic racism she sees every day within her shelter. She explained that she observes it at all levels, whether it is the police, the paramedics, the firefighters or even the hospitals. According to her, systemic racism can never diminish until the government decides to recognize it.
If you have a government that believes there is no systemic racism, it will never stop
Nakuset, director of the Montreal Native Women’s Shelter
She then explained the importance of recognizing Joyce’s Principle. According to Nakuset, this is essential to eliminate the intergenerational trauma that indigenous people experience. She thus took the example of the children of Joyce Echaquan who now fear the hospital system.
« [Si ses enfants] need treatment and to go to the hospital, for them in their minds it is a dangerous place, explains Nakuset. If our hospitals don’t apply Joyce’s Principle, when will it be safe to go back?
Joyce’s Principle is a statement that seeks to guarantee all Aboriginal people the right to access all health and social services without discrimination.
Systemic racism still relevant
For Nazila Bettache, member of the collective “Treat social justice”, the commemoration in honor of Joyce Echaquan reminds everyone that systemic racism is still present.
For some people that may seem like a thing of the past, but I think the fact that we gather here today and honor Joyce reminds us that it is here today, she said. We are here to make sure we remember that and to fight for the Joyce Principle that was put forward by Joyce Echaquan’s family and community two years ago. »
Dr. Stanley Volant of Innu origin also took the floor to denounce systemic racism that does not only take place in Quebec, but across Canada. He then reacted to the remarks made by Prime Minister Legault who had assured that the situation had been resolved at the Joliette hospital where Joyce Echaquan died.
When I hear the Prime Minister who says everything is settled now Joyce Echquand can rest in peace no it’s not true, we have taken a small step, but the road is still long.
Dr. Stanley Volant, surgeon