TAHSN statement on the death of Joyce Echaquan

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TAHSN statement on the death of Joyce Echaquan

Toronto, October 9, 2020

Last week, Joyce Echaquan recorded her shocking treatment during the last hours of her life. In response to pleas of pain, her symptoms were dismissed and she was subjected to racist language and behaviour by those whose job it was to care for her. Ms. Echaquan was a member of the Atikamekw Nation of Manawan; her family and community are now pleading for immediate action to address the neglect and blatant anti-Indigenous racism which she and many others have faced.

As current and future health care providers, educators, researchers, administrators, and leaders, we share the profound sadness of Ms. Echaquan’s family and decry the ongoing racism experienced by Indigenous people in healthcare. We also acknowledge that racism in health care similarly affects Black people. Individual actions by health care providers are a symptom of systemic racism. We know that anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism towards patients, colleagues and learners occurs in our own institutions, and we are committed to its eradication.

We recognize the need to create sustainable structures that ensure meaningful accountability within our institutions when these incidents occur as well as consequences for those who perpetuate racism. Furthermore, we will expand anti-racist education in our learning, research and clinical spaces and focus on cultural safety for Black and Indigenous learners across our institutions. Lastly, we know that our work must be guided by Indigenous and Black communities—including individual learners, patients and community leaders - to determine the solutions that will improve both their health care and their wellbeing.

We are committed to deliberate and urgent action across the Toronto Academic Health Sciences Network (TAHSN). Over the next few months, the TAHSN Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous Racism Steering Committee will bring forward recommendations for meaningful, action oriented initiatives that will advance the goal of ending racism in our institutions.

Ronald Cohn
President and CEO
Hospital for Sick Children
Michelle DiEmanuele
President and CEO
Trillium Health Partners
Sarah Downey
President and CEO
Michael Garron Hospital
Julia Hanigsberg
President and CEO
Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Heather McPherson
President and CEO
Women’s College Hospital
Gary Newton
President and CEO
Sinai Health
Karyn Popovich
President and CEO
North York General Hospital
William Reichman
President and CEO
Tim Rutledge
President and CEO
Unity Health Toronto
Andy Smith
President and CEO
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Kevin Smith
President and CEO
University Health Network
Trevor Young
Dean, Temerty Faculty of Medicine and Vice Provost, Relations with Health Care Institutions
University of Toronto
Catherine Zahn
President and CEO
Centre for Addiction and Mental Health

About the Toronto Academic Health Science Network (TAHSN)

The Toronto Academic Health Science Network is comprised of the University of Toronto and 12 affiliated academic hospitals, each of which hold national and international standing as leaders in their particular fields.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

About Unity Health Toronto

Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit www.unityhealth.to.

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