AFN National Chief Bellegarde Encouraged by Meeting, But Needs To See Action On Addressing Racism Within The Healthcare System

Published: Oct 16, 2020News

October 16, 2020

(Ottawa, ON) – Having attended today’s emergency meeting on racism in Canada’s healthcare system, National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) said that the tragic death of Joyce Echaquan must lead to positive systemic change.

“We are horrified by the passing of Joyce Echaquan. The circumstances surrounding her death clearly demonstrate racism in health care settings,” National Chief Perry Bellegarde said.  “Systemic racism must be addressed, condemned, and eradicated. There should be zero tolerance within any public institution, especially one as vital as health care.

“Together, we can determine solutions that will ease the painful outcomes that Indigenous Peoples encounter from appalling health care experiences. The tragedy of Mrs. Echaquan’s death must motivate governments to change the course of systemic racism in health care. My thoughts are with her children, her partner, and the entire Atikamekw community.”

National Chief Perry Bellegarde calls on all governments to implement the following recommendations:

  1. Work directly with First Nations to ensure that Indigenous Peoples feel safe accessing health care services.
  2. Quebec needs to work with First Nations to fully implement the Viens Commission Report’s recommendations.
  3. Canada must conduct an immediate review of the Canada Health Transfers and the Canada Health Act, to ensure quality health care is being provided to Indigenous Peoples.
  4. The federal, provincial, and territorial governments must listen to Indigenous Peoples on the need for a healthcare Ombudsperson.
  5. The Provinces and Territories must work with educational institutions to ensure a more expansive curriculum for all health care providers.

National Chief Bellegarde thanks Minister Marc Miller for coordinating this important meeting.


The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.  Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.



For more information please contact:

Michael Hutchinson
Interim Communications Director
Assembly of First Nations
613-859-6831 (cell)
[email protected]

Karen Joyner
Communications Officer
Assembly of First Nations
613-292-0857 (cell)
[email protected]