- An indigenous woman in Canada died Monday shortly after live-streaming a video that showed her hospital nurses calling her “stupid” and slut-shaming her.
- The death of that woman, Joyce Echaquan, has increased calls to address systemic racism against indigenous people in the country.
- One nurse in the video has been fired and two investigations are underway, but so far, no criminal investigation has been opened.
Woman Berated by Nurses in Livestream
A Canadian woman has gone viral for live-streaming an incident where she’s seen being berated by two nurses who are supposed to be treating her.
Shortly after filming that seven-minute Facebook Live on Monday, 37-year-old Joyce Echaquan died.
Echaquan, an indigenous mother of seven, originally checked into a Quebec hospital on Monday after experiencing stomach pains.
In the video she captured just before her death, Echaquan’s nurses can be heard making derogatory comments to her in French. Both nurses remain off-camera during the live-stream.
“You’re stupid as hell,” one says. Another nurse tells Echaquan that she’d made bad life choices and asked what her children would think of her behavior. One of the nurses also says that Echquan was “only good for sex” and that they’d have to pay for her medical expenses as taxpayers.
All the while, Echaquen can be seen tied to a hospital bed, where she screams, begging for the nurses to stop.
Nurse Fired, Investigation Launched
On Tuesday, Quebec Premier François Legault, the head of government in the province, announced that one of the nurses heard in the video has since been fired. Legault additionally denounced the nurses’ remarks as “unacceptable” and “racist.”
When asked if he believes if this was a situation that arose from systemic racism, Legault rejected that notion.
“I really don’t think we have this kind of way of dealing with First Nations people in our hospitals in Quebec,” he said.
While speaking to reporters, Legault said Echaquan’s death is now being investigated by regional health authorities, as well as by a forensic pathologist.
However, so far, no criminal investigation has been opened into her death. In fact, the Quebec police have said that much will hinge on the results of the autopsy.
Despite this, Echaquan’s family has accused the nurses of negligence. They believe those nurses gave Echaquan too much morphine, as Echaquan had a history of heart trouble.
If it’s found that the two nurses in the video caused Echaquan’s death, the hospital would almost certainly face significant liability damages.
Indigenous People Receive Poorer Healthcare in Canada
Contrary to Legault, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the incident as “another example of systemic racism that is simply unacceptable in Canada.”
In recent years, Canada has grappled with racism directed toward its indigenous population.
In 2015, one report found that racism in Canada’s healthcare system contributed to overall poorer health outcomes for indigenous people.
Last year, a government inquiry found that Canada was complicit in “race-based genocide” against indigenous women. That inquiry determined that indigenous women are 12 times more likely to be killed or to disappear than non-indigenous women in Canada.
In June, the province of British Columbia opened an investigation after it was found that healthcare staff in at least one hospital were betting on the blood alcohol levels of indigenous patients.
“There needs to be a thorough police investigation and that investigation has to be full and professional and must include a full investigation of any criminal misconduct, whether partly or fully motivated by a hate crime,” Alisa Lombard, a partner with a law firm that’s currently representing two indigenous women in a forced sterilization lawsuit, said of Echaquan.
“Not undertaking this kind of investigation would be further demonstrative of the contempt held by the health-care providers for Indigenous people” Lombard added in an interview with CBC. “Joyce, when she was dying, was met with contempt. Their remarks show… hate and really clear racism.”
More People Speak Out About the Hospital
In the days since Echaquan’s death, more people have come forward with allegations against the hospital where she died.
On Wednesday, Echaquan’s cousin, Karine Echaquan, told the Montreal Gazette that this wasn’t the first time Echaquan had experienced similar discrimination. According to Karine, Echaquan checked into the same hospital in August because of her heart condition.
Karine added that Echaquan frequently live-streamed on Facebook while receiving care at the hospital because she worried about how she would be treated by staff.
“I think it was a sort of protection for her,” Karine said. “She was always suspicious of public health.”
That claim of similar discrimination was later corroborated by another woman, Jennifer Mac Donald.
Also speaking to the Gazette, Mac Donald said that in late August, she had rushed to the hospital to be with her father, who had been admitted following a heart attack.
While in the hallway, Mac Donald said she could hear a woman screaming and expressing concerns over her care. Mac Donald went on to describe the attendants on duty as indifferent and even verbally aggressive, quoting one as saying of the woman, “Will she ever shut up?”
Mac Donald, an off-duty patient attendant, said she then tried to approach the woman to see if she needed help, but the staff told her to mind her own business.
One month later, Mac Donald said she recognized Echaquan in her live stream as the same woman from that incident in August.
The full scope of systemic racism against indigenous people in Canadian hospitals extends well beyond just Echaquan’s experiences, though her experiences do seem to capture a microcosm of the inequities at play.
“Every time we have to bring someone to a hospital, we escort them, because we know that there will be racist comments toward them,” Nakuset, executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal, told the Times Colonist. “We have a form because we anticipate what’s going to happen.”
See what others are saying: (BBC) (CBC) (Montreal Gazette)
200 Children Seeking Asylum in the U.K. Are Missing
The missing include at least 13 children under the age of 16.
Children Missing From Hotels
There are 200 asylum-seeking children missing from government care in the United Kingdom according to the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office.
When children are seeking asylum in the U.K. alone or separated from their parents, the government puts them up in hotel rooms for temporary accommodation. They have done so since 2021 and have temporarily accommodated 4,600 children in that time. However, Simon Murray, the parliamentary undersecretary of state at the Home Office, said that 200 of the children placed in those hotels are missing, including at least 13 who are under the age of 16.
In response to this information, a collection of more than 100 charities sent a letter to the Prime Minister demanding the end of the procedure of placing kids in hotels over safety concerns. The letter says that these children are at risk of trafficking and exploitation by staying in these hotels alone.
Other officials have echoed these concerns, claiming these hotels are targets for organized crime where people use these vulnerable children for labor or trafficking.
Parliament Calls Incident “Horrific”
Murray told the House of Lords on Monday that despite the media reports, his department does not know of any kidnapping cases, though they are investigating. He went on to say there are many reasons why children go missing.
However, lawmakers were not appeased by Murray’s assurances. In a later debate, one member of Parliament called the missing cases “horrific” and another said that it was “putting children at risk.” The children’s commissioner for England also reportedly chimed in asking for, quote “assurances on the steps being taken to safeguard the children.”
Murray went on to say that the use of hotels for asylum-seeking children will hopefully be phased out as soon as possible but did not give a timeline.
The nonprofit Refugee Council called on the government in a tweet to spare no expense in the location of these missing kids.
See what others are saying: (Washington Post) (The Guardian) (The Telegraph)
100,000 U.K. Nurses Launch Biggest Strike in NHS History
Opposition leader Keir Starmer called the strike “a badge of shame on this government.”
The NHS Grinds to a Halt
Some 100,000 members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the United Kingdom’s largest nursing union, launched a historic 12-hour strike Thursday after the government refused to negotiate on higher pay.
The work stoppage, which spans England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, is only the second in the RCN’s 106-year history and the largest the NHS has ever seen. It marks the breaking point for many underpaid nurses and the culmination of a years-long decline in the NHS’s quality of care, put under increasing stress by severe staffing shortages.
Although most NHS staff in England and Wales received a pay rise of around £1,400 this year, worth about 4% on average for nurses, they say it has not kept up with inflation as Britain plunges deeper into a cost-of-living crisis.
When inflation is accounted for, nurses’ pay dropped 1.2% every year from 2010 to 2017, according to the Health Foundation.
Meanwhile, the number of patients waiting for care has reached a record 7.2 million in England, or over one in eight residents, more than double what it was seven years ago.
In July, the cross-party Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee estimated the staffing shortfall could be as high as 50,000 nurses and 12,000 doctors, what one MP called the “greatest workforce crisis in history.”
Many nurses argue that boosting pay will help hospitals recruit more staff.
The RCN demanded a pay raise 5% above the retail rate of inflation, which amounts to a 19% increase, but both Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and the government’s health secretary have claimed that’s not affordable.
During Thursday’s strike, partial staffing continued to remain open for urgent care such as chemotherapy, kidney dialysis, and children’s accident and neonatal units.
Sunak and Starmer Brawl in Parliament
Labor leader Keir Starmer grilled Sunak during Wednesday’s Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) on the upcoming strike.
“Tomorrow will be the first-ever nationwide nurse’s strike,” he said. “All the Prime Minister has to do to stop that is to open the door and discuss pay with them. If he did, the whole country would breathe a sigh of relief. Why won’t he?”
“We have consistently spoken to all the unions involved in all the pay disputes that there are,” Sunak replied. “Last year, when everyone else in the public sector had a public sector pay freeze, the nurses received a three-percent pay rise.”
Starmer fired back: “Nurses going on strike is a badge of shame for this government. Instead of showing leadership, he’s playing games with people’s health.”
Sunak called Starmer’s demand that he reopen negotiations with the RCN “just simply a political formula for avoiding taking a position on this issue.”
“If he thinks the strikes are wrong, he should say so,” Sunak said. “If he thinks it’s right that pay demands of nineteen percent are met, then he should say so. What’s weak, Mr. Speaker, is he’s not strong enough to stand up to the union.”
While Starmer has called on Sunak to negotiate with the RCN, he has not explicitly backed the 19% pay raise himself.
Unless the government returns to the bargaining table, the RCN plans to launch a second round of strikes on Dec. 20 to be followed by ambulance strikes that Wednesday and the next.
If the government still refuses to budge, the union said in a statement that nurses will strike for longer periods in more places starting in January, disrupting more health services.
Other industries are also set to see work stoppages this month, including workers on railways, buses, highways, and borders, as well as teachers, postal workers, baggage handlers, and paramedics.
See what others are saying: (BBC) (CNN) (The Guardian)
Fortnite Developer Sued By Parents for Making the Game as “Addictive as Possible”
One child mentioned in the lawsuit played over 7,700 rounds of Fortnite in two years.
Epic Games Sued
A Quebec City judge recently approved a 2019 class-action lawsuit accusing Fortnite developer Epic Games of deliberately making Fortnite addictive.
The parents who brought forward the lawsuit claim their children have become so obsessed with the game that in some cases, they’ve stopped eating, showering, or socializing. The lawsuit claims that these kids have played thousands of games since Fortnite’s release in 2017. In one example, a teenager played over 7,700 games in less than two years.
If the lawsuit succeeds, players addicted to Fortnite living in Quebec since September 2017 could receive compensation. The plaintiff’s attorney, Philippe Caron, reports that over 200 parents outside the lawsuit have reached out to him, saying their child’s well-being has diminished since downloading Fortnite. He told The Washington Post that they are very confident about their case.
Epic Games Responds
“We plan to fight this in court,” Natalie Munoz, a spokesperson for Epic Games said to The Post, “We believe the evidence will show that this case is meritless.”
Munoz also said that Fortnite does allow parents to supervise their child’s playtime and require permission for purchases.
The parents involved in the lawsuit are claiming that they were not aware of the dangers playing Fortnite could pose for their children.
“If she had been informed by the defendants of the risks and dangers associated with the use of FORTNITE,” the lawsuit says of one guardian. “She would have categorically refused to allow the game to be downloaded.”