A nurse at a Quebec hospital has been fired after a dying Indigenous woman streamed hospital staff mocking her.
The patient, Joyce Echaquan, recorded the footage Monday on Facebook Live while she was at Centre Hospitalier Régional de Lanaudière in Joliette for stomach pains.
In the video, reviewed by NBC News, Echaquan makes noises of extreme discomfort from her hospital bed. Hospital staff can be heard calling her “stupid as hell” in French while one nurse says Echaquan, a mother of seven, is “good at having sex, more than anything else.” Echaquan, 37, died later that day.
The local public health department said it “finds the comments heard in the video circulated on social media unacceptable” and “does not tolerate any such language on the part of its staff within the organization.”
“The investigation is underway, and a nurse has been fired,” the department said, according to NBC News.
The video sparked demonstrations outside the hospital. Quebec’s premier, François Legault, said Tuesday that a task force on racism would “take action” and issue recommendations.
“First, I want to offer my condolences to the family. Second, what happened is totally unacceptable,” he said, according to NBC News.
Perry Bellegarde, the national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, said the incident showed how little progress had been made since a government report last year indicating racism in public health services against Indigenous people.
“One year after the release of the Viens Commission Report, Joyce Echaquan, a young Atikamekv woman died while facing incredibly racist and insensitive taunts by Quebec health care staff,” he tweeted.
My Statement on the racism and discrimination faced by Joyce Echaquan, a young First Nations mother, who later died in hospital. pic.twitter.com/ZvD6b9c8Hz
— Perry Bellegarde (@perrybellegarde) September 29, 2020
Canadian Senator Leo Housakos, who represents Quebec’s Wellington region, tweeted “the lack of human compassion and dignity shown to this mother, daughter, friend, must not be tolerated in our society.”
My heart goes out to Joyce Echaquan’s family and her entire community. The lack of human compassion and dignity shown to this mother, daughter, friend, must not be tolerated in our society. https://t.co/aTNkZNjbGC
— Senator Leo Housakos (@SenatorHousakos) September 30, 2020