uOttawa joins the signatories of the Joyce’s Principle, which aims to guarantee all Indigenous people the right of equitable access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services.
The tragic loss of 37-year-old Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw Nehirowisiw woman who suffered racial discrimination and abuse in the moments before her death on September 28, 2020, has led to the drafting of a principle designed to guarantee “all Indigenous people the right of equitable access, without any discrimination, to all social and health services, as well as the right to enjoy the best possible physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.”
After lengthy consultations and engagement with health-related academic programs and the Indigenous community on our campus, the University of Ottawa enthusiastically commits to adopting Joyce’s Principle. In so doing, uOttawa acknowledges its particular responsibility to educate students and future professionals about the issues of systemic and institutional racism, to promote cultural safety, and to support the revitalization of Indigenous knowledge in all of its programs.
We remain committed to deepening our engagement with Indigenous health research and community-led health initiatives. At the same time we understand that this principle cuts through all of our faculties, disciplines, and programs. This commitment is aligned with the University’s Indigenous Action Plan, launched on National Indigenous People’s Day, June 21, 2020, the aim of which – in part – is to “Mobilize the university community in creating an environment that reflects, enhances, includes and supports Indigenous culture and peoples on campus.”
Our country – and especially our Indigenous brothers and sisters – is still reeling from the shocking discovery of the remains of 215 Indigenous children at a former residential school site in Kamloops, B.C. In light of this distressing news, and the continuing discrimination faced by Indigenous peoples across Canada today, the need for the widespread adoption and implementation of Joyce’s principle could not be more urgent.
As our President and Vice-Chancellor Jacques Frémont stated last week, it is time for all Canadians to acknowledge the historic harms caused to Indigenous Peoples and to increase our efforts in the pursuit of a full and just reconciliation. Our hearts go out to the children and family of Joyce Echaquan, and we are resolved to ensure that they and future generations of Indigenous people can access quality health care services with the respect and dignity they deserve.
Provost and Vice-President, Academic Affairs