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Quebec nurse admits prejudice among staff about Indigenous patients at Echaquan inquiry

Carol Dubé, husband of Joyce Echaquan who died at the local hospital over the weekend, and her mother Diane Echaquan Dubé, right, attend a vigil in front of the hospital in Joliette, Que. on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN

A nurse who works at the Quebec hospital where Joyce Echaquan died last year told a coroner’s inquest on Tuesday there is a perception among her colleagues that Indigenous people are alcoholics or drug addicts.

The inquest is investigating the death of Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw mother of seven who filmed herself at the hospital northeast of Montreal as female staff were heard insulting and mocking her not long before she died last Sept. 28.

The nurse, whose identity is protected by a publication ban, initially told the inquiry she had never heard any negative comments by staff toward Indigenous patients. But she revised her testimony after pointed questioning from coroner Géhane Kamel, admitting there were issues between the Atikamekw community and workers at the hospital in Joliette, Que.

“In my opinion, I think there is a problem with the Joliette hospital with the (Atikamekw) community,” the nurse said, adding there was a perception among her colleagues that those patients have problems with alcohol and drugs.

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