Joyce Echaquan, a loving and laughing mother

The star around which Joyce Echaquan’s life orbited was her family. The Attikamek mother of seven, whose disturbing death shakes Canada this week, loved above all to laugh with her family. However, her fragile health kept changing her trajectory and leading her to the hospital.

“Since 2014, she has suffered from heart failure,” says her cousin Karine Echaquan. Despite her very fragile health, she always got back on her feet to support her family, to raise her children. She was a good mom. “

Joyce Echaquan was 37 years old. She lived with her two daughters, her five boys and her husband, Carol Dubé, on the Manawan Attikamek reserve, in the Lanaudière region. A housewife, Joyce was supported by her eldest daughter, now 16, and also a mother. Carol, on the other hand, worked in forestry and as a firefighter, but had slowed down lately to take care of his wife.

Joyce, “she was an artist,” recalls Manon Ottawa, one of Joyce’s “matantes”. “She was drawing, she was painting. She liked to draw with her children, who draw a lot. That’s how she expressed herself, “she testifies.

Those close to him point out that Joyce adored nature. As often as possible, she visited her father’s family territory to spend a few days in good company. “She was a hypersensitive woman,” adds Mme Ottawa. She cried when she saw a tree being cut down. It affected him a lot to read about deforestation. Clearcuts affected him a lot. “

Last year Joyce held bitten to have her seventh child. ” [Précédemment,] she had a pregnancy that was interrupted by doctors because she was told she couldn’t give birth, says Mme Ottawa. She had been told that was too much for her, given her heart problems. When she got pregnant again [l’an dernier], the doctors still wanted to remove him. But she said “no”, she didn’t want her child touched in her womb anymore. “

Earlier this year, Joyce therefore spent several months at Sainte-Justine Hospital in Montreal, seeking support in her difficult pregnancy. There, she gave birth to her youngest, Carl Junior, who is now seven months old. Karine and other members of the family regularly visited her in the metropolis, to support their cousin exiled four hours away from her community.

“We have always been very close with Joyce’s family,” says Karine. The Echaquan family is a very, very close family. It’s a big family. The support of the family is very important. “


Wednesday morning, the same family stood together in front of the Lanaudière Native Friendship Center, in Joliette. In the middle of a meal out, Chantal Chartrand, a friend of the family, told the group that internet fundraising had passed the $ 100,000 mark. This money must be used to pay for the funeral and to help the widower and children.

“It affects all Indigenous people across Canada,” says Chartrand. I am an Innu from Sept-Îles, we also have horror stories like that. I have experienced it myself, too. It was my mother’s heart [qui s’est emballé] when I saw the video. She openly hopes that Joyce’s tragic death ignites a movement similar to the one in the United States that began after the tragic death of African-American George Floyd under the knee of a police officer in May.

Joyce did her entire schooling in Manawan. She stopped her studies in the second year of secondary school, recalls her aunt Manon. Cordial, talkative and quick to laugh at herself, it was mainly in Attikamek that the 30-something was speaking. She only knew a few words of French.

When she had to go to Joliette hospital, Joyce often asked for help from her cousin Karine, who has lived in the city for ten years, in order to communicate with the doctors. At other times, Joyce would use her phone to have a family member act as an interpreter.

“She was a very jovial woman. She was happy, despite all her problems, ”says Lorraine, Karine’s sister. On her phone, she shows images of Joyce: the two cousins ​​stick their tongues out and laugh. “She was really clingy,” says the 42-year-old, who is studying to work in the kitchen. “She loved the world and was very affectionate. “

In Montreal, Joyce left behind fond memories. “Joyce was smiling all the time, she bore her name so well,” recalls Amélie Villeneuve, the spiritual care worker who accompanied Echaquan during her last childbirth. “She was very pious, very religious and we went with her in that. She loved to read the Bible and would ask us to pray for her, it soothed her when she was anxious. “

Mme Villeneuve remembers a woman who was not afraid to show herself in all her vulnerability, but who remained strong, confident and smiling in the face of the ordeal. “She was really a beautiful woman, full of sweetness. I don’t understand how they could have mistreated her like that. It is all the more paradoxical that she said thank you all the time, she was so grateful for the care she was receiving. “

With Jessica Nadeau

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