Ministers Honour Joyce Echaquan and Re-Affirm Commitment to Addressing Anti-Indigenous Racism in Canada's Health Systems
Ottawa, Ontario (September 28, 2022) – The Minister of Indigenous Services, Patty Hajdu, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Marc Miller, and the Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, issued the following statement today:
"Health care is a human right, and should be free of racism and discrimination. But the systemic discrimination and racism that Indigenous Peoples face in Canadian health care systems continues. Tragically, this has led to services that come with stigma, and has resulted in trauma and even death, as in the case of Joyce Echaquan, who recorded her treatment in an emergency room just prior to her passing.
Two years ago today, Canadians were appalled by the mistreatment that Joyce Echaquan endured while seeking medical care shortly before her death. Since that day, the Government of Canada has led action and supports to address systemic racism in health care and to foster change in systems of care that will lead to safer health services for Indigenous Peoples in Canada.
Joyce's story revealed and amplified the racial stereotypes and bias that continue to harm First Nations, Inuit and Métis individuals and communities. Her tragic and avoidable death ignited a long overdue call to address the truths that exist in our health systems and the urgency for change. In Joyce's memory, the Atikamekw Nation created "Joyce's Principle," which aims to protect the right of all Indigenous Peoples to equitable access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services, as well as the right to enjoy the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.
Since Joyce's passing, the federal government has funded over 50 Indigenous-led projects across the country to foster safer and more inclusive health systems. These projects are just the beginning. It will take commitment from all levels of government and all health care systems to fundamentally address ongoing systemic racism in a structural way. This is a task that must be done by leaders and included in every aspect of governance and delivery. As we continue this work with partners to eliminate systemic racism and discrimination in health care, we reflect on this anniversary as a reminder of how important this work is, and how much more remains ahead of us. Most importantly, we must lift up Joyce's Principle and honour the life of Joyce Echaquan."
For more information, media may contact:
Office of the Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services
Indigenous Services Canada
Office of the Honourable Marc Miller
Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada
Office of the Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos
Minister of Health
Public Health Agency of Canada
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