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CBHSSJB response to the death of Joyce Echaquan

October 8, 2020

The circumstances of the death of Joyce Echaquan have caused a wave of discussion and reflection within our organization about the need to recognize and confront the existence of systemic racism in the healthcare system.


The circumstances of the death of Joyce Echaquan have caused a wave of discussion and reflection within our organization about the need to recognize and confront the existence of systemic racism in the healthcare system. Members of our staff have participated in candlelight vigils, signed petitions and held formal and informal meetings. Representatives of our organization have given several media interviews on this subject in Cree, English and French. 

On 30 September the CBHSSJB issued a statement joining the Cree Nation Government in urging the Québec Government to renew its commitments to implement the Calls for Action of the Viens CommissionRead the CNG Press Release.

Recognizing that no healthcare organization is immune from systemic racism, which is pervasive in settler society, the CBHSSJB undertakes several strategies to try to ensure that our clients receive care in an environment that is culturally safe.

These strategies include:

  • Recognition of Users’ Rights and an independent complaints process 
  • A Nishiiyuu Department which guides the CBHSSJB in reflecting Cree culture and values in our programs and services
  • Cultural safety is at the core of the CBHSSJB vision to strengthen services in Eeyou Istchee, in order to reduce the need for our clients to travel outside the region. This is exemplified by projects including a new regional hospital in Chisasibi, the return of childbirth and midwifery services to the region, Elders’ Homes for long-term care and home hemodialysis. Telehealth is also a part of this vision. Through telehealth, we can reduce the need to travel and people can receive care in their own language and their own community.
  • Cultural safety training as an important component of annual training for medical personnel including nurses, doctors, dentists and pharmacists. We are working to include cultural safety training as a part of the onboarding process for all new employees.
  • Ensuring access to traditional food in establishments including Chisasibi Hospital
  • Cree Beneficiary Attendants and Interpreters to accompany clients receiving services in outside establishments 
  • Access to Cree Traditional Healers and Cree speaking counsellors for mental health support
  • Using Cree and English in our communications, recognizing that many of our clients and community members do not speak French fluently
  • Engaging in policy and legislative reform processes in Quebec, including the effort to give legal recognition to cultural practices such as customary adoption.
  • The Indigenous Succession Program, which supports employees in meeting their objectives and developing the next generation of Cree leaders.

CBHSSJB In the News

Media interviews with members of our staff reflecting on cultural safety and efforts to rid the health system of racism.

Winschgaoug (Cree) with Dorothy Stewart - Oct. 7, 2020: Dr. Darlene Kitty discusses culturally safe health practices.

Le Québec Maintenant (français) avec Patrick Lagacé - Oct. 06, 2020: François Legault présente des excuses aux proches de Joyce Echaquan, mais refuse de parler de racisme systémique: réactions de Maïtée Labrecque-Saganash

Winschgaoug (Cree) with Dorothy Stewart - Oct. 5, 2020: Christine Petawabano, vice chairperson of the Cree Health Board, reflects on efforts to rid the health system of racism.

CBC Ottawa All in a Day with Alan Neal - Sep. 30, 2020: Conversation about systemic racism within our healthcare system with Dr. Darlene Kitty, who is the Director of the Indigenous Program at the University of Ottawa, and the co-chair of the Indigenous Health Working Group at the College of Family Physicians of Canada, President of CBHSSJB Council of Physicians, Dentists and Pharmacists (CPDP) and Family Physician in Chisasibi.

See also:

Winschgaoug (Cree) with Dorothy Stewart - Oct. 1, 2020: Stella Masty Bearskin, President of the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association (CWEIA) comments on what's changed since the Viens report, and the death of Joyce Echaquan.

Eeyou Dipajimoon (Cree) with Christopher Herodier - Sep. 30, 2020: Lorraine Shecapio joins the Candle Light Vigil for Joyce Echaquan in Joliette.

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