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Joint statement from CNA & CINA on the treatment of an Indigenous woman by nurses in Joliette, Quebec

September 30, 2020 — The Canadian Nurses Association (CNA) and the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association (CINA) are appalled by the dehumanizing and racist treatment of Joyce Echaquan by a nurse at a hospital in Joliette, Quebec. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident but rather another example of the systemic anti-Indigenous racism that continues to plague Canada.

Racism is an important determinant of health, contributing to unacceptable social inequities. This ongoing problem is the root cause of many health disparities in Canada and needs to be tackled aggressively at all levels.

“We are at a crossroads, the time has come that we must all recognize the harsh reality of systemic racism in Canada,” said Tim Guest, president of CNA. “CNA condemns all forms of racism both within the health-care system and the nursing profession. As key members of the health workforce, nurses are responsible for upholding principles of justice, equity, and fairness, and a failure to do so is an egregious violation of the ethical foundation of nursing practice,” said Guest.

“In these most difficult times, we again are faced with racism, and privilege was taken as an opportunity to exercise authority. Measures will be required to identify and remove these conditions and systems that support racist actions, and to remove laws, regulations, procedures and practices in Canada’s public institutions that allow for these barriers,” said Lea Bill, president of CINA. “This incident is a situation where the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action must be undertaken to develop corrective actions, implement programs and make systemic changes. CINA is the leading expert in Indigenous nursing knowledge, and this tragic incident is clearly an example of the need for a mandatory cultural competency and humility training program for health-care professions. We are looking to our national nursing leader organizations to commit to this call. If Indigenous health is to improve health outcomes, the process must be led by Indigenous Peoples,” said Bill.

Individual and systemic action is needed to de-colonize the structures that impact the education, regulation and practice of the nursing profession and ensure it can provide safe, compassionate, and ethical care to all people living in Canada.

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About the Canadian Nurses Association
The Canadian Nurses Association is a powerful, unified voice for the Canadian nursing profession. We represent regulated and retired nurses in all 13 provinces and territories. We advance the practice and profession of nursing to improve health outcomes and strengthen health care for all people in Canada.

About the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association
The mission of the Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association is to improve the health of Indigenous Peoples by supporting Indigenous nurses and by promoting the development and practice of Indigenous health nursing. In advancing this mission, the association will engage in activities related to recruitment and retention, member support, consultation, research and education.

For more information, please contact:

Eve Johnston
Media and Communications Coordinator
Canadian Nurses Association
Cell: 613-282-7859
Email: ejohnston@cna-aiic.ca

Marilee A. Nowgesic
Chief Executive Officer
Canadian Indigenous Nurses Association
613-724-4677
Email: ceo@indigenousnurses.ca