Nurse Fired for Making Racist Remarks to Dying Woman as She Screamed for Help

A nurse has been fired and an investigation launched after an indigenous woman was filmed screaming in pain and being insulted by staff at a hospital in Canada.

Mother of seven Joyce Echaquan had gone to the hospital in Joliette, Quebec, complaining of stomach pains.

She filmed herself calling for help before two female hospital staff can be seen entering her room and saying in French that she was "stupid as hell."

In the now widely circulated video, the 37-year-old Atikamekw woman was told she made bad life choices and was asked what her children would think if they saw her in that state.

"That's why I came here," Echaquan replied.

According to a fundraising page set up in her memory, Echaquan had complained that she was being given too much morphine. She died a short time later.

Leading members of the indigenous community spoke out about the actions of the nurse, who was accused of racially abusing Echaquan.

Ghislain Picard, the Quebec chief of the Assembly of First Nations, said: "A coroner's inquest should not be an opportunity for the government to shirk its responsibilities.

"A coroner's report will not change anything about the racism displayed by nurses. It is a question of attitude and a question of culture.

"I don't know if she was a victim of abuse, but I do know that she was a victim of racism by the nurses who had to care for her.

"We know this because there is a video of this tragedy, and you can clearly hear the nurses insulting Joyce because she is Atikamekw, because she is Indigenous."

'Systemic racism'

Mary Hannaburg, vice president of Quebec Native Women, described the video as a "very hard thing to hear and to listen to."

She said: "The statements that are made are not going to be tolerated. Those are of a racist nature.

"We will not tolerate racism in any given form toward indigenous women."

Quebec Premier François Legault said Echaquan's case was "totally unacceptable."

He said: "There will be two inquiries and the nurse did something unacceptable and she has been fired.

"I really don't think that we have this kind of way of dealing with First Nations people in our hospitals in Quebec. Yes, there is some racism in Quebec. We're working on that."

On Tuesday evening, vigils were held for Echaquan. One of those attending, Isabelle Newashish, told CBC: "We're here for Joyce. When is it going to end?"

A GoFundMe page has already raised more than C$85,000.

Canada's prime minister, Justin Trudeau, has previously pledged to tackle "systemic racism," particularly against indigenous Canadians, which he said "exists within our country and across a range of institutions."

He said in June: "We're working with indigenous leadership and communities, working with the Black community, working with racialized Canadians to prioritize exactly what things we should do rapidly."