Indigenous woman dies in Canadian hospital after filming racist taunts  from nurses
via CBC / Radio Canada

A disturbing video out of Quebec has brought attention to the issue of systemic racism against Indigenous people in Canada's healthcare system.

Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman and mother of seven, was admitted to a hospital in the Quebec city of Joliette for severe stomach pain on September 26. Two days after being admitted, she posted a live video on Facebook of the nurses taunting her with racial jibes.

In the video, nurses can be heard calling her "stupid as hell" in French and asking "What are your children going to think, seeing you like this?"

"She's good at having sex, more than anything else," another nurse says.


The comments are heard while Echaquan moans in pain. She died shortly after posting the live video.

The actions of the staff were condemned by Quebec premier, François Legault. At least one of the nurses has been fired for their behavior and the province has launched an investigation into the circumstances of Echaquan's death.

Marc Miller, federal Indigenous services minister, has called the video "gut-wrenching" and gave his condolences to the victim's family.

"This is the worst face of racism," Miller told reporters. "This is someone who is at their most vulnerable. And they are dying, having heard racist words expressed towards them."

"Discrimination against First Nations people remains prevalent in the healthcare system and this needs to stop," the Assembly of First Nations national chief, Perry Bellegarde, said in a statement.

Lorraine Whitman, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, also spoke out against the horrifying incident.

"It was with disgust that we heard a nurse, a woman who was supposed to care for her, utter racial slurs rather than come to her aid," she said. Whitman also wondered whether other Indigenous women have suffered the same treatment but didn't have the "courage or ability to film their own distress."

A study from 2015 called "First Peoples, Second Class Treatment" by the Wellesley Institute found there is a deep-seeded racial bias in Canada's healthcare system and much of it stems from country's colonial past.

The inequity faced by indigenous people is rooted in government policies that encouraged segregation. Further, negative stereotypes about Indigenous people have created an "unconscious, pro-white bias" among healthcare workers.

The study also found that Indigenous people experience racism in healthcare settings so regularly they often strategize about how to deal with it before admitting themselves to the hospital. The prejudice has also forced some to avoid the healthcare system altogether.

via GoFundMe

This isn't the first incident of its kind to make headlines in Canada this year.

Staff at a hospital in British Columbia allegedly bet on the blood alcohol content of the Indigenous people admitted to the hospital.

"The allegation is that a game was being played to investigate the blood alcohol level of patients in the emergency rooms, in particular with Indigenous people and perhaps others," Health Minister Adrian Dix said in a statement.

"And if true, it is intolerable and racist and of course (has) affected profoundly patient care," Dix continued.

Echaquan's death has inspired people to join the Justice Pour Joyce moment which seeks to end systemic racism in Canada's healthcare system.

Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women's Shelter and organizer of a Justice Pour Joyce march in downtown Montreal, is hopeful that Echaquan's death will inspire systemic change in healthcare.

However, that'll only happen if Canadians from all backgrounds come together to support Indigenous people.

"The only way that we can make changes as a society is to show up," she said, "because actions speak louder than words."

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."