MONTREAL -- In the solemn setting of the National Assembly's Blue Room, Quebec Premier Francois Legault formally offered an apology to the family of Joyce Echaquan on Tuesday.

Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman from the Manawan community and a mother of seven, died in a Joliette hospital after catching hospital staff taunting her on video. The video she shot on her phone spread widely around Quebec and Canada, with many activists, government leaders and ordinary citizens expressing disgust at the actions of the hospital staff.

Two people have so far been fired from the hospital and several inquiries into the incident are ongoing.

Legault's statement, made on behalf of the Quebec government, came on the same day as Echaquan's funeral.

“This does not mean the Quebec nation is racist,” said Legault, who has consistently refused to recognize any systemic racism in the province but has said he wants to combat racism “in all its forms.”

Legault's apology was presented in the form of a motion after question period and was preceded by a condolence motion presented by Quebec Solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse that was unanimously adopted. The motion was followed by a moment of silence.

Legault met with the grand chief of the Atikamekw Nation on Monday, where he promised better training throughout the hospital network as well as a public awareness campaign on the importance of fighting racism. 

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 6, 2020.