Manawan Chief Jean-Rock Ottawa proudly displays a small medallion of Saky-Anne Petiquay, who drowned in September 2016.
The eight-year-old girl may still be alive if the community had an ambulance according to Ottawa.
“If there had been the presence of the paramedics, this girl would have had the same chances of survival if we had the resources in the community,” Ottawa testified Monday at the Quebec inquiry into the province’s treatment of Indigenous people.
The community has been fighting to get those services for over 20 years.
Manawan, with its 2,500 members, is only accessible by a logging road and is located 80 kilometres north of Saint-Michel des Saints.
For Ottawa it’s simple – Manawan is a victim of discrimination.
“The Atikamekw in Manawan are clearly discriminated against by Québec government authorities, particularly with regard to pre-hospital emergency services,” he said. “The Atikamekw Council of Manawan is convinced that now the discriminatory situation of the ambulance service for the members of our community results in an inequality that can be qualified as systemic racism.”