28 May

To all members,

As you know, the “Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress” was created on December 21, 2016. This commission was created following the complaints of Aboriginal women concerning the behaviour of officers of the Sûreté du Québec’s police station in Val-d’Or.

This independent public inquiry commission’s mandate will be to investigate more broadly on the discrimination in the administration of public services towards the members of the First Nations of Québec. The following public services are targeted: police, correctional, legal, health and social services, as well as youth protection services.

QWN requested and obtained participant status in this inquiry on May 11th. This status gives us rights such as the ability to propose to the commission to hear witnesses that have pertinent information to offer in relation with the commission’s mandate.

We believe the success of this commission will in part be related to the quality of the information that can be transmitted by all those who have experienced or witnessed situations of discrimination or violence, during the provision of public services, whether it is in the communities or urban areas.

The commission alone cannot visit to each of the 55 communities of Québec to explain the nature of their mandate and the situations that can be analyzed in more depth. We estimate that all the members of QNW and more broadly all the members of the First Nations living in the native communities of Québec as well as in urban areas must be invited to communicate with the commission in order to inform them of situations which may be investigated.

As we previously mentioned the mandate of the public inquiry commission is vast and addresses all members of the First Nations of Québec, men or women. The commission’s mandate does not specifically reference concrete situations experienced in the communities or urban areas. For example, we have illustrated the following situations that may interest the public inquiry commission:

Police Services

–     Police officer who abuses his power against a native woman or man or minor who is particularly vulnerable (under the effects of drugs or alcohol; in a fugue state; who is homeless or in the context of prostitution);

–     Complaints in police ethics that are not taken seriously and without effective follow-up;

–     Depositions to the police that are not taken seriously and without effective follow-up;

Québec Correctional Services

–     Conditional release hearing that takes place without an interpreter;

–     Inadequate social reintegration services in the community;

Justice Services

–     Limited access to the Crown prosecutor by a victim of a crime who is little or poorly informed of the follow-up to their complaint;

–     Sentence imposed on an Aboriginal offender due to a lack of community resources while other measures could have been envisaged;

Health and Social Services

–     Racist behaviour towards Aboriginal patients in a CLSC or hospital;

–     Patients that are not taken seriously for intoxication;

Youth Protection Services

–     Aboriginal children removed from parents without an adequate evaluation of alternative measures;

–     Lack of resources available locally during a reporting and use of placements outside the community;

We would like to remind you that these are only examples and that many other specific situations can be investigated.

We understand that reporting a situation of discrimination or violence by a public service can be very stressful for many people, particularly for those who were directly affected. We assure you that the commission will use all available means to ensure that these individuals benefit from psychological support at all times.

It is possible that certain situations personally concern you, members of your family or relatives. We have been informed that the commission will assure you of the complete confidentiality of the information you transmit to them. In doubt, we encourage you to contact us so we can respond to your questions.

You can contact the commission at 1-844-580-0113. If you want more information beforehand, you can contact us at 450-632-0088 (ask for Véronique) or our legal advisors at 514 393-3326 (ask for Me Éric Lépine and Me Rainbow Miller).

We invite you to circulate this information in your community, on your social media and your community radio.

Québec Native Women has campaigned for 30 years to have public commissions of inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women. Let’s make this inquiry a success!