They were 215 children. The children had names. They had parents. They had a future. The children were taken from their homes and forced to participate in an institution that was designed to control them; to assimilate them into the dominant culture; to separate them from their land, their language, and their lineage. They include children as young as three years of age.
Six months ago, Joyce Echaquan, a 37-year-old Atikamekw woman, died in a Quebec hospital. Her cries for help were ignored by hospital staff but have now resounded across Canada. They served as a wake-up call for health systems, health professionals, and the institutions that train nurses, doctors, and rehabilitation therapists. When systemic racism is so grievous that it causes death, no one should turn a blind eye.
But we did not get here suddenly. This did not happen in isolation.