A nurse was discharged from a Canadian hospital after a video was released showing a dying indigenous woman screaming in distress and being insulted by staff.
Quebec Prime Minister Francois Legault said the nurse’s remarks were “unacceptable” and “racist”.
He said Joyce Echaquan’s death is being thoroughly investigated.
It is the latest in a series of incidents that have raised questions about the systemic racism of Canada’s indigenous citizens.
A 2015 report found that racism against indigenous peoples in the Canadian health system contributed to poorer overall health outcomes compared to non-indigenous Canadians.
Ms. Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, had gone to Joliette Hospital about 70 km from Montreal and had a stomach ache.
The mother of seven filmed herself screaming in her hospital bed and calling for urgent help.
- The case was dropped against an indigenous chief who was abused by the police
You can hear a coworker say to her in French: “You are damn stupid.” Another says Ms. Echaquan made bad choices in life and asks what her children would think of her behavior.
Ms. Echaquan died soon after. Her relatives told Radio-Canada that she had a history of heart problems and was concerned that she was being given too much morphine.
What was the reaction like?
“The nurse, what she said is completely unacceptable, it is racist and she has been fired,” Premier Legault told a press conference. “We have to fight this racism.”
He announced two investigations. One is performed by regional health authorities and the other by a forensic pathologist responsible for investigating deaths in suspicious circumstances or due to negligence.
In a tweet, Canadian First Nations lawyer and politician Perry Bellegarde said the incident showed that discrimination against indigenous peoples remains widespread in Canada’s health care system.
The Manawan Atikamekw Council said the comments “clearly show racism against First Nations”.
Ghislain Picard, chief chief of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, said that racism is “very often the fruit of government policies that lead to systemic discrimination”.
Mary Hannaburg, vice president of Quebec Native Women, said the video was “very difficult to hear and hear,” CBC reported.
“The statements that are made will not be tolerated. These are racist in nature,” she said.
On Tuesday evening there was a vigil for Ms. Echaquan in front of the Joliette hospital. An online fundraising campaign has been set up to support their children.
What is the background?
In recent years Canada has grappled with the racial injustice of its indigenous people.
Last year, a government investigation found that Canada was involved in “racial genocide” of indigenous women.
According to the report, indigenous women were killed or disappeared 12 times more often than other women in Canada. The investigation found that the cause was deeply ingrained colonialism and state inaction.
In June this year, the video shocked the country of an indigenous chief Allan Adam who was repeatedly beaten by police while he was being arrested.
Media playback is not supported on your device
Media signatureThe police dashcam footage shows the forcible arrest of Allan Adam
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Canada has a problem with systemic racism “in all of our institutions, including all of our police forces”.
Also in June, health officials in the province of British Columbia opened an investigation alleging that some hospital workers were betting on the blood alcohol levels of indigenous patients.