Actions Demand Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls

Thousands Respond to Death of Joyce Echaquan

Montreal, October 3, 2020

In an outpouring of immense solidarity and social love, more than 5,000 Quebeckers of all ages from all walks of life gathered in Montreal on Saturday, October 3 at Émilie-Gamelin Park to pay tribute to Joyce Echaquan and to support her husband, her children and the Atikamekw community. On September 28, Joyce Echaquan, a young Atikamekw woman from Manawan, a mother of seven children, the youngest barely seven months old, lost her life under inhumane circumstances at the Joliette Integrated Health and Social Services Centre.

At Émilie-Gamelin Park, speaker after speaker demanded justice for Joyce. They were: Marie-Ève Bordeleau, Commissioner of Indigenous Affairs for the city of Montreal; Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women; Ghislain Picard, Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador; Sipi Flamand, Vice-Chief of the Manawan Atikamekw Council; Jennifer Brazeau, Executive Director of the Lanaudière Native Friendship Centre; and Manon Massé of Québec Solidaire, accompanied by Jennifer Maccarone, the Quebec Liberal MNA for Westmount-Saint-Louis.

Emotions ran high as the demonstrators demanded justice for Joyce. The speakers also demanded justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, an end to the indignities and injustices committed against Indigenous peoples, the implementation by governments of the 142 calls for action of the Viens Commission as well as those contained in the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. They demanded accountability and that immediate action be taken to turn those recommendations into reality. They also recalled the 2019 UN report decrying the abhorrent living conditions of Canada's Indigenous peoples. The protesters then marched through downtown Montreal, greeted by passers-by and encouraged by the honking of car horns.

Vigils, healing marches and rallies also took place on October 3 and 4 across Quebec: in Victoriaville, Quebec City, Roberval, Rimouski, Sept-Îles, Val-d'Or, Odakan and Shawinigan; as well as in Toronto, Vancouver and elsewhere across Canada. In addition, many health care unions, Indigenous communities, rights advocacy organizations and student associations issued public statements. Thousands of individual and collective messages of support inundated social networks.

Numerous Quebec artists, poets, songwriters and music groups launched a call for solidarity on Facebook. Messages, poems, drawings, songs and live performances have been posted there in support of Joyce Echaquan's family, the Atikamekw community of Manawan, the First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis. Expressing the demand for justice for Indigenous women and peoples, well-known Quebec songwriter Ariane Moffatt wrote: "As a non-Native ally, I am marching with you and will continue to do so for as long as it takes to finally end all the forms of injustice you have endured for far too long."

On October 4, the 15th annual commemorative Sisters in Spirit Vigil was held online and in communities across the country to pay tribute to the more than 4,000 missing and murdered Indigenous women and to demand justice for them and for Joyce. The vigils included one organized in Montreal by Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. The hundreds of participants reiterated their determination to fight all forms of discrimination and violence against themselves and their Aboriginal sisters.

Full support for the family of Joyce Echaquan! Support the Atikamekw community! All-out to end racism and indignities committed against Indigenous peoples!

Final tribute to Joyce Echaquan by the Atikamekw community of Manawan, Quebec,
October 4, 2020.

Quebec City, QC

Montreal, QC

First Nations Museum, Wendake, QC; Shakihikan Centre, La Tuque, QC

Shawinigan, QC; Senneterre, QC

Toronto, ON

Vancouver, BC

Victoria, BC

(Photos: TML, CSN Quebec City-Chaudière-Applaches Central Council, K. Brahma, Nuage Eelav, Mouvement d'éducation populaire et d'action communautaire du Québec, E. Worraps, M.J. Weizineau, UBCIC, M. Laquis, Red Cedar Woman, R. Grondin)

This article was published in

Volume 50 Number 38 - October 10, 2020

Article Link:
Actions Demand Justice for Indigenous Women and Girls: Thousands Respond to Death of Joyce Echaquan - Christine Dandenault


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