Atikamekw leaders want Quebec, Ottawa to tackle systemic racism with Joyce’s Principle


Atikamekw leaders in Quebec say it’s time for the provincial and federal governments to take a stand when it comes to systemic racism against Indigenous people, and have devised a set of principles they want to see adopted.

Joyce’s Principle, a document created by the council of the Atikamekw Nation and the Atikamekw Council of Manawan, will be delivered to both levels of government on Monday.

The document is named after Joyce Echaquan, the 37-year-old Atikamekw mother who died in September at the hospital in Joliette, Que., after filming staff calling her derogatory names as she screamed in distress.

Joyce’s Principle aims to “guarantee all Indigenous people the right of equitable access, without discrimination, to all social and health services, as well as the right to benefit from the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health,” the document says.

Atikamekw leaders hope it will become a legal framework to guide the decisions governments make when it comes to health and social services.

Among the demands are training for health-care workers, the integration of Indigenous practices into educational programs and programs to support Indigenous students studying in the field of health and social services.

The groups say they want governments to prioritize acting on the principles while working in close collaboration with Indigenous leaders “so that tragedies like the death of Joyce Echaquan never happen again.”

The council of the Atikamekw Nation held public consultations in October, where members of Atikamekw communities shared their experiences in health-care facilities, stories that were used to inform the principles.

Earlier this month, the Quebec government announced a $15-million plan to teach health-care workers how to better provide services to members of Indigenous communities — with an emphasis on cultural safety.



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