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In a statement regarding the nationwide commemoration of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-spirit people on Monday, Quebec Premier François Legault apologized for not properly marking the anniversary of the death of Joyce Echaquan last week. On Sept. 28, the one-year anniversary of the Atikamekw woman’s accidental demise after she live-streamed racist abuse by hospital staff, an opposition proposal was made in the National Assembly to adopt Joyce’s Principle, which involves acknowledging systemic racism. The discussion, primarily between Legault and “woke” Québec Solidaire leader Gabriel Nadeau Dubois, centred on the Premier’s continued refusal to admit that systemic racism exists in this province.

“I am well aware that the National Assembly last week did not send the message of compassion and solidarity that the situation demands of us. I include myself in this and I take the responsibility that falls to me.

“What the situation requires of us is to leave partisanship aside to shed light on what Indigenous peoples are experiencing.”

—François Legault

Following public hearings and an investigation into Echaquan’s death, a report was released on Friday by coroner Géhane Kamel, including a list of recommendations to improve Quebec’s health care system for Indigenous people. At the top of the list was the acknowledgement of systemic racism by the provincial government, and a commitment to eliminate it.

Last week Legault also took heat for not making Truth and Reconciliation Day a statutory holiday in Quebec, and then saying that this decision was based on a need for more “productivity” in the province.

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