Minister responsible for Indigenous Affairs Sylvie D’Amours “insults” Indigenous peoples in the wake of Joyce Echaquan’s death and is no longer fit to hold office, the official opposition believes.
Joyce Echaquan, 37, died in Joliette hospital on Monday in disturbing circumstances. She was the victim of degrading comments shortly before her death, as evidenced by a video that was widely distributed.
Prime Minister François Legault called the comments “totally unacceptable” and “racist” and announced that a nurse had been fired. Ms. D’Amours described the situation as “alarming”.
However, on Wednesday, she chose to mark the first anniversary of the Viens commission report by issuing a terse press release extolling the work accomplished with the Aboriginals over the past year.
She said she was proud that out of 142 calls to action, 51 are completed or in the process of being completed, noting, for example, that the government has already issued a public apology.
The Viens report concluded in 2019 that Aboriginal people were victims of “systemic racism” in Quebec.
“Of course we would have liked to act more quickly on the other calls to action, […] but the pandemic has turned our plans upside down, ”writes Ms. D’Amours, without ever mentioning Ms. Echaquan.
“What matters is that we continue to move forward in constant respect of our commitment to walk hand in hand with First Nations and Inuit. “
This communication is a “real insult”, judges the head of the official opposition, Dominique Anglade, who believes that Minister D’Amours has “done nothing for a year” and is no longer fit to be a minister.
“People are seriously laughing at it,” Anglade said at a press briefing at the National Assembly. I think with the press release, she already wrote her resignation letter, quite frankly. “
Dominique Anglade deplored the absence of Minister D’Amours in the House on Wednesday, as well as the absence of Prime Minister François Legault, as well as the ministers of Health, Education and Culture.
“Is that respectful […] that Joyce died under unacceptable, inhumane and insulting circumstances? Asked Liberal MP Gregory Kelley from his seat at the Blue Room.
“It is not true that in one year, we can repair all the damage,” said Minister responsible for the Status of Women, Isabelle Charest.
Returning to the charge, the parliamentary leader of the Liberal Party, André Fortin, insisted that confidence was not built “with unsightly press releases to pat each other on the back”.
“Confidence cannot be built when the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs calls the Assembly of First Nations the fourth opposition party. Confidence, it’s not in place, “he insisted.
Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Massé was just as harsh on Minister D’Amours on Wednesday, but did not call for her resignation.
“It takes from the front all the head round to the Minister of Native Affairs to congratulate herself on the quality of her exchanges with the Native people,” she said. Quebec must do better. “
This is not the first time that Sylvie D’Amours has faced such criticism. Last March, several denounced its inaction during the blocking of the railway lines in Kahnawake and Listuguj.
“She hasn’t contacted us at all. She played no role, ”said Mohawk community spokesperson Lynne Norton.
Acting PQ leader Pascal Bérubé at the time suggested a cabinet reshuffle to remedy the situation.
On August 17, during the review of the appropriations of her secretariat, Ms. D’Amours complained that indigenous groups were holding back the government in its efforts.
“I try to work collaboratively. I need partners. I don’t need a fourth opposition party, ”she said.
“It really means reducing ourselves to a minimum,” responded the leader of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard.