Joliette CLSC nurses face termination over alleged racism, references to Joyce Echaquan
MONTREAL -- Two nurses working at the Joliette CLSC were suspended without pay on Monday following an alleged incident of racism against on Indigenous woman.
The case was made public by Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador Grand Chief Ghislain Picard, who wrote a post on Facebook denouncing the incident, which occurred on Friday at 1 p.m.
According to Picard's post, an Atikamekw woman who was an outpatient of the CLSC was the “subject of intimidation, mockery and harassment,” as staff members “saw her name and told her 'I think we'll just call you Joyce.'”
In September, an Atikamekw woman named Joyce Echaquan caught staff at Joliette Hospital berating her with racist insults while she lay dying on a bed. The incident sparked widespread comdemnation and led to promises of reform from the provincial government.
The president and CEO of the regional health authority, Caroline Barbir, said she was “shaken” and “deeply shocked” when she found out about the incident on Monday. Barbir said the two employees were quickly identified and suspended without pay. Both face dismissal from their jobs.
The victim of the racist remarks did not file an official complaint. Barbir said she understands that members of the Atikamekw community of Manawan do not trust the system but said she hopes the actions taken since the death of Echaquan will help build confidence.
Barbir said she asked cultural security liaison officer Sophie Ottawa to contact the victim.
She noted that 4,200 regional health authority employees attended a cultural safety awareness session in November, but was unable to confirm whether the two nurses were present.
In a statement, Quebec Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs Ian Lafreniere said he had been made aware of the incident over the weekend was and working to verify it, and that “the alleged statements are unacceptable.”
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021