Like a #MeToo about the treatment of Indigenous people by the health system

One after the other, they changed their profile picture on Facebook to show the face of Joyce Echaquan, who died at the Lanaudière Regional Hospital (CHRDL) on Monday, while nurses insulted her. And then they took the keyboard.

Since Monday, it’s been the surge: Indigenous people, many of whom are Attikameks like Echaquan, recount the mistreatment they suffered in the health system.

“The voices heard are numerous enough to affirm that the members of the First Nations and the Inuit do not feel safe when the time comes to put their health in the hands of public services”, wrote Commissioner Jacques Viens a year ago. , at the end of the Commission of Inquiry into the Relations between Native People and Certain Public Services in Quebec.

And then the stories go by. Mothers separated from their children after giving birth, patients who were injected with drugs to which they were allergic. Looks, remarks, situations that lead them, one after another, to wonder if they have been treated differently because they are indigenous.

“It’s like some kind of #MeToo with an aboriginal posture. It has happened to us all, at one time or another, “summarizes the Innu Caroline Nepton-Hotte, professor at UQAM and member of the Interuniversity Center for Native Studies and Research.

Three transfers, no baby

Vanessa Ottawa-Flamand, from Manawan, is one of those who decided to share their story. On March 16, 2004, after giving birth to her second child at CHRDL, she was woken up. We transferred her from a room the first time. Then a second. We woke her up again, changed rooms a third time. In the cramped room where she found herself, with her cousin who had also just given birth, she was not allowed to bring her newborn baby.

“I decided to stay close to my baby in the nursery,” says the 40-year-old, now a mother of five. “The pediatrician would come and we had to go out. So we hung out in the hall all day. “

Like Mme Ottawa-Flemish, Leah Newashish traveled to Joliette, a three-hour drive, just before giving birth. Her husband stayed in Manawan, because CHRDL informed him that he would have to pay for his room if he wished to accompany him. She too has been moved to another room. “Like Vanessa,” said his friend Alexandre Nequado in conversation with The duty. “They do that to native women,” replied Newashish.

Beside her, Alexia Nequado recounted having been injected with morphine during a visit to CHRDL two years ago, despite her allergies and despite the red bracelet she wore to identify them. The substance knocked him unconscious. When she woke up, the nurse had a “mocking tone,” different from what she had with other patients. “She told me: it’s stupid of you, you didn’t tell me you had an allergy,” recounts the young woman. Mme Nequado returned to CHDRL to file a formal complaint, in person. “I never heard from. “

Since then, “I’m afraid of getting sick or having complications,” she said. “I’m even more scared now with what happened to Joyce. “

Évangéline and her daughter Kristine Bellemare, from Wemotaci, went to Joliette on Tuesday to participate in a vigil in memory of Joyce Echaquan. The woman’s story reminded them of how Bellemare, in La Tuque, trivialized his health problems. At the time, she had wanted to press charges, but she never knew how to go about it.

Since Monday, Mme Bellemare viewed the video of Joyce Echaquan’s death several times. “I find it really degrading, to the point where the anger has really taken over,” she says.

Her daughter shared a combative text on social media. “In the Charter, it is written and I quote: ‘Every human being has the right to life, as well as to safety”, “Every human being whose life is in danger has the right to help” “, reads- she.

“We will continue to rush so that everything is heard,” says the young woman.

For her, for her mother and for the 19,000 people who signed a petition to this effect on Wednesday evening, Joyce Echaquan’s death is no more and no less than a murder.

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