A dying Indigenous woman filmed a Facebook Live video of hospital staff in Quebec, Canada, taunting her, an incident that has sparked protests, prompted an investigation and led to a nurse’s firing.
Joyce Echaquan, 37, a mother of seven, filmed the video Monday after she had been taken to a hospital in Joliette two days prior for stomach pains.
She died at Centre Hospitalier Régional de Lanaudière the same day she took the video. Echaquan’s family said Joyce had a heart problem.
In the footage, which was viewed by NBC News, Echaquan is seen lying in a hospital bed. She appears to be breathing heavily and is screaming and moaning.
Nurses can be heard in French calling Echaquan “stupid as hell” and suggesting she was only good for sex.
NBC News does not know what occurred before or after the video or what happened during several missing minutes when the posted footage was fast-forwarded.
The video sparked outrage in Canada and protests outside the hospital, with some in the crowd on Tuesday chanting, “Justice for Joyce.”
Les slogans de la foule evant l'hôpital de Joliette 👇
« Qu'est-ce qu'on veut? La justice! »
« Fini le racisme! »
— Steeve Petiquay (@SteeveQC) September 29, 2020
“First, I want to offer my condolences to the family. Second, what happened is totally unacceptable,” Quebec’s premier, François Legault, said during a press briefing Tuesday.
Legault said a task force on racism would issue recommendations in the coming weeks. “We will take action to fight against racism,” he told reporters.
“The lack of human compassion and dignity shown to this mother, daughter, friend, must not be tolerated in our society,” Canadian Senator Leo Housakos tweeted Wednesday.
The national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, condemned the incident.
“One year after the release of the Viens Commission Report, Joyce Echaquan, a young Atikamekv woman died while facing incredibly racist and insensitive taunts by Quebec health care staff,” he tweeted, referring to a 2019 government report that found systemic discrimination against Indigenous people accessing public services.
“Discrimination against First Nations people remains prevalent in the health care system and this needs to stop.”
The local public health department that runs the hospital said in a statement translated from French that an internal investigation was launched and a nurse has been fired.
The agency said that it “finds the comments heard in the video circulated on social media unacceptable,” adding that it “does not tolerate any such language on the part of its staff within the organization.”
“The investigation is underway, and a nurse has been fired,” the statement said.
Echaquan’s death comes amid ongoing concerns over the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada, who make up about 5 percent of the country’s population of nearly 37 million.