French Radio RFI Mistakenly Publishes Obituaries For Very Alive Famous People

Queen Elizabeth was among the personalities whose deaths were mistakenly announced by RFI on Monday.

Some Mondays are tougher than others. Like the ones when you mistakenly announce a bunch of famous people’s death on the Internet.

French radio station RFI had to apologize Monday for accidentally publishing dozens of obits on its website for people who are still very much alive, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Brazilian footballer Pelé and Cuban president Raul Castro. The company said on Twitter the mistake was due to a “technical error.”

“We are working to fix this major bug and offer our apologies to those concerned and to our followers, who trust us,” RFI wrote in the same tweet.

It is common practice for big news agencies to prepare obits ahead of time for famous sports, entertainment and politics personalities, in order to have them ready when they die. But it goes without saying that those drafts – sometimes callously referred to in French as “viandes froides” (cold cuts) — are absolutely not meant to be seen by anyone outside of the newsroom before the person’s death is confirmed.

In this case, the RFI reporter who prepared the entry for Queen Elizabeth’s death wrote the draft assuming that the monarch would succumb to the novel coronavirus, as the United Kingdom has seen its new cases spike again in recent weeks.

“Infected by the virus, Queen Elizabeth, 93 years old [editor’s note: the Queen is 94], did not survive the pulmonary complications brought on by the disease,” read the story that was briefly up on RFI’s website, according to a screen grab tweeted by a reader. The obituaries were quickly deleted from the website, but still appeared in Google search results several hours later.

WATCH: Here’s what’s planned so far for the Queen’s platinum jubilee in 2022.


This “major bug” caused a lot of hilarity on social media. While a few people seemed understanding, others just mocked the network ruthlessly for its mistake. 

“RFI has decided to end 2020 with a bang.”

“In 2020, if you don’t have an RFI obit, you’ve wasted your life.”


Some also pointed out that former minister and Adidas owner Bernard Tapie seems to regularly cheat death. It is at least the third time a news outlet has mistakenly announced his death in recent months. Newspaper Le Monde published his obituary last fall, while TV network L’Équipe sent out a breaking news alert about his “death” last August.

With files from Agence France-Presse

Quebec Activist Finds New Ways To Fight Racism In The Pandemic Era

Even though Nidia Guerrier can’t “even count the hours” she spends speaking out about racism, she doesn’t describe herself as an activist. Given that most of her involvement is through social-media networks — and using her...

Quebec Activist Marwa Khanafer Wears A Hijab And Walks A Social Tightrope

Marwa Khanafer weighs each word carefully when she speaks publicly. Dressed in her hijab, she knows that she has no leeway to make mistakes. She has learned the hard way that a lightly chosen word can backfire on not just her but her entire community.&...

‘Justice For Joyce’: Quebec Rallies Around Family Of Indigenous Woman Who Died In Hospital

Joyce Echaquan's husband Carol Dubé and mother Diane Echaquan attend a candlelight vigil in front of the Joliette, Que. hospital where she died.

MONTREAL — When protesters descend onto the streets of Montreal Saturday to demand an end to systemic racism, Nakuset hopes the sound of their drums is so loud that Joyce Echaquan will hear them, wherever she may be.

“Everytime something truly heart-wrenching happens in the community, it’s almost cathartic to bring people together to mourn and share their anger,” the executive director of the Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal told HuffPost Québec. That’s why she decided to organize a peaceful protest to demand justice for the 37-year-old Indigenous mother who was subjected to racist taunts by health-care workers shortly before her death in a Quebec hospital Monday.

She asks that everyone attending the march bring “a placard, a face mask and a drum, if they have one.”

“The drum represents the heartbeat. Bring your drums and make enough noise to where our cries for justice are heard more loudly than the nurses’ racist vitriol, Nakuset said. We want to show people her death means something. She’s not a statistic.”

“Quebec’s own George Floyd”

Nakuset has been fighting for Indigenous people’s rights for over 20 years. She’s seen many injustices against them take place, but she hopes Joyce Echaquan’s death might be a moment of reckoning for Canada.

Pointing to the impact of George Floyd’s death and how it reignited the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States, she believes “it’s time for Canada to have this moment too.”

Watch: Coroner launches an inquiry into Joyce Echaquan’s death. Story continues below.


She believes if thousands of people take to the streets this weekend, Quebec Premier François Legault won’t have a choice but to recognize the existence of systemic racism in the province. Up until now, Legault has called the comments made by hospital staff caring for Joyce Echaquan “racist” and “totally unacceptable,” but stated he refuses to believe that “every nurse or the entire health-care system would have had that reaction.”

For Nakuset, it is also “totally unacceptable” that one full year after the Viens Commission determined that Indigenous people face racism in the province’s public institutions, the Legault government has yet to enact the recommendations in its report.

“[Indigenous Affairs Minister] Sylvie D’Amours says 51 recommendations have been applied. Please show me where, ’cause it ain’t happening here,” Nakuset said.

Family seeks justice

Joyce Echaquan’s family announced Friday that it would turn to the courts to seek justice for the young Atikamekw mother.

“They took my wife’s life,” Echaquan’s husband Carol Dubé roared in a raw and powerful declaration before the media. “She died in indignity, when she would have needed her family until the end. She received denigrating comments that proves there is still racism against Indigenous peoples.

One of Joyce Echaquan's son, Dayvon, hugs his father Carol Dubé as he addressed the media on Friday about the death of his wife.

“How many deaths is it going to take to say that there is systemic racism against us?” he bellowed.

Lawyer Jean-François Bertrand, who represents the family, said a complaint would be lodged with the police because he believes a criminal act took place. He also announced the family would seek damages and penalties from the hospital, as well as from every member of staff who was present at the time of Echaquan’s death.

“Those who said nothing are just as guilty,” he said.

‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ Star Melissa Fumero Asks Why Her Character Is White In Quebec Remake

Melissa Fumero as Amy Santiago, Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta in season 7, episode 10 of

This week, fans of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” were treated to the first trailer of the Quebec adaptation, “Escouade 99.” The project has been highly anticipated since it was announced last year, so it’s no surprise the trailer had hundreds of thousands of views within a few hours of its release.

Actress Melissa Fumero, who plays Amy Santiago in the original version, was visibly thrilled to see the first images, saying it was “like peeking through another dimension.”

She was less enthusiastic, however, about the choice of a white actress, Mylène Mackay, to play her character. In the original version, Fumero’s character comes from a Cuban-American family, and the actress herself is of Cuban descent.

But in “Escouade 99,” Amy Santiago is renamed Fanny and is no longer racialized. Another Latina character, Rosa Diaz, is also played by a white actress, Bianca Gervais, and renamed Rosalie.

“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”has been celebrated for its diversity and commitment to inclusion. Responding to Fumero’s tweet, many Latinas pointed out how empowering it felt to finally see themselves represented on American television.

While the characters of Rosa and Amy appear to lose their heritage in “Escouade 99,” the roles of Captain Ray Holt and Lieutenant Terry Jeffords — portrayed by Black actors Andre Braugher and Terry Crews in the English version — are being played by Black Quebecers.

Lack of diversity on Quebec television has been a hot topic in the province, especially in the wake of renewed attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. Last month, organizers of the Artis gala, which celebrates the most popular names on Quebec television, came under fire for their overwhelmingly white list of nominees. Last year, after similar criticism, the president of the province’s Union des artistes, Sophie Prégent, had said that the lack of diversity was “hurtful,” since some 15 per cent of the union’s members are second-generation immigrants.

Friday, after Quebec media covered her initial comments, Fumero took to Twitter to double down, saying she had been “thinking about this a lot.” She noted that, while she understood that the province doesn’t have a very large Latino community (according to Statistics Canada data from 2016, there are approximately 133,000 people who identify as Latin American in the province), the roles of Amy and Rosa “could’ve gone to any BIPOC, so it’s disappointing to see that missed opportunity.”

She also took a moment to mention that she did not hold a grudge towards actresses Mackay and Gervais, pointing out that “it’s up to the decision makers.”

“Lastly,” she added, “if the show is successful, I hope the creators take that opportunity to hire more BIPOC in supporting and guest roles.”

Showrunner Patrick Huard (“Bon Cop, Bad Cop”) has not commented on the situation.

With files from Jean-François Vandeuren, HuffPost Québec

Also on HuffPost

How To Prepare Your Kids For A COVID-19 Test

Going back to school in the midst of a pandemic means a lot of Canadian children will have to get tested for COVID-19 at some point over the next few months, especially with cold and flu season right around the corner. The test is not pleasant and can ...