The time to address anti-Indigenous racism is long past due

October 2, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario – Canadian Human Rights Commission

Marie-Claude Landry, Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, issues the following statement:

The death of Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who live streamed the racist slurs, neglect and abuse she suffered while in the care of staff at the Joliette hospital, is a tragic example of the racism and intolerance Indigenous peoples continue to face in Canada.

What happened to Joyce Echaquan is graphic proof that systemic racism against Indigenous peoples is real and its impacts are devastating.

Systemic racism is the product of an entire system of long-existing structures in Canadian society. It manifests itself in our public institutions, including our healthcare system, where stereotypes, biases, and prejudices can have real life consequences. Denying that systemic racism exists is a barrier to reconciliation and contributes to further harm to Indigenous peoples.

Every human being has the right to live with equality, dignity, and respect.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission calls on leaders at all levels across Canada to act, expeditiously, to implement the recommendations outlined in the reports of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and, more recently, the Viens Commission in Quebec.

Outrage is not enough. The time to address anti-Indigenous racism is long past due.

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