More aboriginal women allege abuse at hands of Quebec provincial police
Women speak out following allegations and investigation into abuse in Val-d'Or
More aboriginal women across Quebec are speaking out about what they say is physical and sexual abuse at the hands of provincial police officers.
The women — who hail from places such as Schefferville and Maniwaki — say they wanted to share their own experiences after Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête aired a story in November about aboriginal women in Val-d'Or alleging they were sexually assaulted by Sûreté du Québec officers over a period of two decades.
Following the report, then public safety minister Lise Thériault handed investigation of the allegations to the Montreal police.
Women come forward
Lise Jourdain says she experienced abuse at the hands of SQ officers over 25 years ago.
"I was raped by police officers in Schefferville," she told Enquête.
"Actually, it was one officer, but I use plural because the others knew what was happening."
Kristen Wawatie, originally from Lac Barrière in the Abitibi region of Quebec, said she was violated by an officer in Val-d'Or in August 2012.
Kristen Wawatie says an officer in Val d'Or, Que., called her a drunkard and put his hands in her pants. (Radio-Canada)
"I said no, I don't want you to touch me," she said.
"It's then that his hands went, they went in my pants. He said to me that he can touch me when he wanted."
Wawatie said she told the officer she would bring him to court.
"He said, 'Who are they going to believe, the police or a drunkard?'"
Deserted by police
Other women are sharing stories about being abandoned by officers at the side of the road, kilometres away from habitable areas.
Carolyn Henry said that in 2007, she was visiting Maniwaki, a small town north of Gatineau in the Outaouais region, for a powwow.
She said she was leaving a bar with a friend when SQ officers offered to give them a lift back to their campground.
But she said police drove past the campground and continued driving for about 45 minutes.
"You can't help at think the worst. I mean, we were in a vulnerable situation, two young indigenous females in a town that we're not from and we don't know anything about," Henry said.
"They knew that we needed a ride. So yeah, like, sure, the worst things are going through our heads. You know, 'cause you hear the stories of what happened to many other indigenous women."
Henry said the police drove to what looked like an abandoned gas station, told her and her friend to get out and then drove off, leaving them stranded.
Public security minister promises action
A former employee of Quebec's public security ministry, Isabelle Parent, who worked under the junior minister for 12 years inspecting police forces, said she wants to break her silence on the allegations.
"There was no interest. At the top, there was really no interest in the security of aboriginals, aboriginal women," she said.
"That shocked me."
Parent said prosecutors often said they didn't have enough information to move forward with charges.
In an interview Thursday with Radio-Canada, Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux defended turning down interview requests from the Enquête team.
He said he had no information on the allegations at the time of the request. On Thursday afternoon, he said that he will make sure complaints are followed up on.
"These allegations will for sure bring with them a government response," Coiteux told Radio-Canada.
"We won't sit around with our arms crossed."
No comment from SQ
The provincial police refused interview requests from the Enquête team.
Jean O'Bomsawin, a former SQ officer, said the allegations about Val-d'Or officers shocked him.
"My first reaction was, they are going to speak to everybody to make sure this situation is dealt with, that it won't go any further," he said.
"There needs to be a serious investigation into all these allegations, to find the truth. Those who protected other officers must face consequences as well."
The Montreal police said the investigation into the conduct of the eight officers in Val-d'Or is continuing.
SOURCE 1. (Source also has video.)
OP: The following article (i.e. below) is from last year and is basically a part one to the article above. (In other words, it is about the first allegations to be made, in the area of Val-d'Or, Quebec, Canada.)
Quebec probes alleged police abuse of aboriginal women
Quebec’s provincial police force has suspended eight officers accused of abuse of power and assault involving aboriginal women in the remote mining town of Val-d’Or.
Quebec Public Security Minister Lise Theriault is in tears as she speaks to reporters Friday at the national assembly. Theriault says eight Surete du Quebec police officers who allegedly sexually assaulted native women have been put on administrative leave.
MONTREAL—Quebec’s provincial police force has suspended eight officers accused of abuse of power and assault involving aboriginal women in the remote mining town of Val-d’Or.
The allegations, which were publicized in a Radio-Canada report, involve women who were paid or forced to perform sexual acts to uniformed, on-duty Sureté du Québec officers — one allegedly inside a police station. Others told the French-language broadcaster they were harassed, beaten, or driven to the outskirts of the town in western Quebec and forced to walk home inebriated and in harsh winter conditions.
The Quebec government responded Friday by calling in an external police force to investigate the allegations. But the province has also made clear that it sees in this case further proof of the need for an inquiry into the fate of missing and murdered aboriginal women across Canada that the newly elected Liberal government of Justin Trudeau has promised to call.
“There is no way to see this other than as troubling and shocking,” said Quebec Public Safety Minister Lise Theriault, who fought back tears in a Quebec City news conference.
“The reality for the aboriginal women in Val-d’Or, but also all across Canada, is worrying and unacceptable. We have to act in collaboration with all levels of government.”
A spokesman for the provincial police force, Capt. Guy Lapointe, said that it began as an internal investigation into the allegations against its officers in May when it was made aware of some of the alleged wrongdoing. The Radio-Canada report that aired Thursday contained additional incidents the SQ was not previously aware of, Lapointe said.
In a news conference, he said nine officers are the subject of 14 separate allegations. One of those officers, accused of two separate sexual assault allegations, is now deceased. Of the eight others, five are still working in Val-d’Or and three have since moved on to other postings in the province.
All eight have been placed on administrative leave while the investigation is conducted by the Montreal police force. In addition, the SQ has brought in a new commanding officer to lead the 60 officers posted to the town of 32,000 people and instituted a working group that will focus on training officers in their interactions with aboriginals. Both measures are aimed at trying to restore confidence with the local aboriginal community and Quebecers at large.
“These are exceptional measures for an exceptional situation,” Lapointe said.
The allegations were uncovered while Radio-Canada’s investigative news program,Enquête, was looking into the case of an aboriginal woman, Sindy Ruperthouse, who had gone missing in 2014 and complaints that the police had not seriously investigated her disappearance.
A group of aboriginal women who knew Ruperthouse told of their encounters with local police going back years. One young woman recounted being driven out to the woods and paid $200 by two police officers for oral sex.
“If they were two they would pay $200 each. It was $100 for the service and another $100 to keep my mouth shut,” she said, adding that she had had similar encounters with seven Sureté du Québec officers in total.
“Sometimes they paid me in cocaine, sometimes in cash. Sometimes it was both.”
Another recounted being caught in the street with a beer two decades ago and being taken into an interrogation room in the police station. She said she was 19 years old.
“He pulled down his pants and that was that. After we went back downstairs and it was as if nothing had happened,” she said.
The owner of a local bar told Radio-Canada that she had seen more than a dozen aboriginal women mistreated and subject to physical and sexual abuse by police officers over the years.
A number of the women said they had filed complaints about their treatment at the hands of the police but never heard back about the results of any investigation.
The six-month journalistic inquiry appears to have prompted police to take a recent and renewed interest in at least two of the cases. But it has also prompted wider calls for action.
Chief Ghislain Picard of the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec-Labrador, said the provincial government should call a public inquiry to look at how the justice system treats First Nations in Quebec.
“Systematic discrimination against First Nations exists. It is not an urban legend,” Picard said in a statement Friday. “The government of Quebec must respond to this culture of indifference when our members are the victims. It must stop.”
Amnesty International said this case should add urgency to the calls for a national inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women across Canada, which has been promised by the newly elected Trudeau government.
'National Inquiry into Mising and Murdered Aboriginal Women and Girls'.
'Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women: 5 Things an Inquiry Should Consider'.
OP: I actually live in Quebec, Canada. And the system has always been that the police carry out investigations of each other, which NEVER works (i.e. when it's a complaint about the Montreal police, the Surete du Quebec who are the police for much of the province outside of Montreal carry out the 'investigation' and vice-versa). I mean, with a sytem like that, I should get to file my income tax forms to myself, am I right? Right? Or maybe I could arrange a raise for myself out of someone else's money...? /sarcasm
So when it's about the systematic mistreatment of indigenous women (=who don't count), I *guarantee* that nothing will be done. The picture above shows the (now former) Public Security Minister when she gave a press conference regarding the assaults, where she said she was "in shock" with regards to the accusations. However it is difficult for me to believe (IMHO) that the government did not know about these complaints (in other words, I think they just didn't care). (See what is said here, for instance.)