A picture of Joyce Echaquan is seen during a vigil on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, in front of the hospital where she died in Joliette, Que. Advocates say the fate of Echaquan is a tragic example of the systemic racism many Indigenous people face while accessing health care. (Paul Chiasson - The Canadian Press)

Vernon woman plans march to end systemic racism in health care

Local Indigenous advocate organizes event in honour of Joyce Echaquan

A Vernon woman is organizing a peaceful march starting from the local hospital to draw attention to systemic racism in the health-care system.

Meagan Louis said the rally is to stand in solidarity with Joyce Echaquan, who died in a Quebec hospital bed on Sept. 28.

The 37-year-old Atkamekw mother of seven used her phone to record nurses making degrading comments to her shortly before her death, prompting widespread news coverage, inquiries, protests and vigils across Canada.

“This is a peaceful rally as we are standing in solidarity and showing the rest of the country that racism needs to stop,” Louis wrote in an event page for the rally on Facebook.

A nurse involved in the incident was fired, and Quebec’s chief coroner has announced plans for a public inquest into Echaquan’s death.

It’s not the first major Canadian health-care scandal related to Indigenous racism to crop up this year.

In June, B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced an investigation into allegations of emergency room staff “playing a game” to guess the blood-alcohol level of Indigenous patients.

Louis is a First Nations activist who has organized rallies for missing and murdered Indigenous women in the past. She hopes others will join her Saturday, Oct. 10, at 4 p.m. in a march from the Vernon Jubilee Hospital to the downtown RCMP detachment.

So far, 28 people have responded to the event on Facebook.

In line with other rallies around the country, Louis asks participants to wear purple in remembrance of Echaquan.

“Please bring your signs ‘Justice for Joyce’ and ‘End systemic racism’,” she wrote.

READ MORE: Joyce Echaquan’s death highlights systemic racism in health care, experts say

READ MORE: Quebec premier formally apologizes to Joyce Echaquan’s family

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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