MONTREAL -- A new Joliette clinic is offering a “culturally secure space” for Indigenous people to seek health care, weeks after a woman died while being berated with racist insults by hospital staff.

Lanaudiere Native Friendship Centre executive director Jennifer Brazaeau said reluctance to seek health services in Joliette has increased among the Indigenous population since the death of Joyce Echaquan. Before her death, Echaquan captured the racist taunts of nursing staff on video.

The death of the mother of seven on Sept. 28 shook Quebec, raising questions about systemic racism and prompting the provincial government to recognize the problem and take action.

Brazeau said that in Joliette, where roughly two per cent of the city's 47,000 residents identify as Indigenous, the need for a clinic where Atikamekw feel safe is not new but is more pressing now.

The new clinic, called Mirerimowin, which translates to “feeling good,” welcomed its first patients on Tuesday afternoon.

“When we launched this idea, we even had pregnant women who wanted to know if they could have their babies here, because they didn't want to go to the hospital,” said Brazeau.

The clinic, based in a Friendship Centre room, will be open two afternoons per month and will welcome Indigenous patients who don't have access to a family doctor. Brazeau said if the clinic can't meet a patient's needs, they will try to guide them to other services.  

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2020.