All forms of racism are unacceptable, at all times, in all places. Period. Like all of Quebec, at the FIQ and FIQP, we are also disturbed and shocked by what we heard in the video posted by Joyce Echaquan before her death. As feminist organizations with a nearly 90% female membership of healthcare professionals, we cannot excuse the inexcusable nor can we stand by indifferent. There’s no room for racism, including in health care. It is unacceptable that patients be treated differently based on their race.
For too long now, Indigenous women and girls have not been treated in a dignified, humane manner as a result of colonialism and sexism, among other things. Over time, so many of them have been taken from their families, reported missing or been murdered, never to be found. Because they are Indigenous women and girls, people mistakenly thought that no one would care. The tragic and inhumane death of Ms. Echaquan has given rise to a new wave of indignation, and rightly so.
In the last two years, there have been two inquiries into Indigenous relations: one provincial (Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec, better known as the Viens Commission) and one federal (National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls). The inquiry reports were tabled in 2019 and sadly, almost none of the recommended actions and measures have been implemented by the different levels of government. It is high time that Indigenous peoples be considered as full human beings and be treated equally. The injustice that these women and men experience every day needs to stop once and for all, including in all public services to which they are entitled.
Since its founding, the FIQ has been committed to fighting against violence and racism, whether based on gender, race or ethnic origin. It adopted a “zero tolerance” policy against “all types of discrimination, harassment and violence, regardless of whether it is perpetrated against or by its members.” These recent sad events have led us to re-examine our governments’ and institutions’ indifference because their inaction indirectly fuels racist behaviour.
Despite our deep sadness and pain, let’s honour the memory of Ms. Echaquan by demanding that authorities implement concrete measures to eliminate systemic racism perpetrated against Indigenous peoples, and against all minority groups. Enough is enough!
Nancy Bédard, President and Joint Political Officer for the Status of Women Sector
Shirley Dorismond, Vice-President and Joint Political Officer for the Status of Women Sector