Remembering Joyce Echaquan
September 28, 2022, marks the second anniversary of the preventable death of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman, who died during a hospital stay in 2020. Coroner Gehane Kamel, who conducted an inquest into Echaquan's death, concluded that she was a victim of systemic racism.
Joyce's Principle, released in November 2020, is a formal request for a commitment by the governments of Quebec and Canada (and their institutions) to respect and protect Indigenous rights relative to health care and social services—rights that are recognized internationally by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The tragedy of Joyce Echaquan's death, and of many others who died due to a failure of the health system to root out and eradicate systemic racism, cannot result in inaction. It is imperative that governments and institutions responsible for care delivery, administration, planning, and education in the health care system work to achieve meaningful change to address systemic racism.
The College of Family Physicians of Canada™ (CFPC) recognizes the pervasive nature of systemic racism within Canada’s institutions and is deeply concerned about its effects on delivery of services to underserved populations. Since 2012 the CFPC Indigenous Health Committee (IHC) has been actively exploring ways to address inequities in Indigenous health and social issues, including racism, to educate family physicians and trainees across Canada through a lens of cultural humility and cultural safety. In support of anti-racism and culturally safe care of Indigenous peoples, the IHC authored the Indigenous Health CanMEDS-FM Supplement in 2020. The IHC continues to work with CFPC leaders to enhance the health, well-being, and access to quality health care of Indigenous peoples by supporting education, practice, and family physician advocacy on behalf of family physicians and their patients.
Read the full CFPC statement acknowledging the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan.