20 October

Kahnawake, October 20, 2016 – Nearly a year ago, Indigenous women from Val-d’Or publicly denounced violence and police abuses against them on the episode of Enquête. On this occasion, Quebec Native Women (QNW) salutes their courage and the one of all women who experienced abuses or violence from police forces and who found the strength to denounce it. QNW would like to thank these women who managed to open an unprecedented speech in the province of Quebec, knowing that the road ahead was not going to be easy.

Today, at the dawn of a year since the denunciations, it was announced that 41 police officers of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) filed a lawsuit against Radio-Canada, for sharing content that is, in their view, defamatory. QNW regrets that the reality of police abuses and violence suffered by Indigenous women in Val-d’Or extends across the province and country. Systemic violence against Indigenous women is undeniable and leads to situations where more than 1,200 Indigenous women are gone missing and murdered in Canada in 2016. In a time where women finally managed to break the silence, QNW is concerned that the lawsuit filled by the SQ will hinder the healing process of these women and discourage more women to denounce violence and abuse.

Recently, Native Para-Juridicial Services of Quebec (NPJSQ) said that only 11 official complaints were forwarded to the Service de police de la ville de Montreal (SPVM) on the more than 75 calls they have received since the beginning of their term in April. In addition, of these formal complaints, only 5 are from Indigenous women, even though NPJSQ received four times more calls from women. This shows the importance to provide Indigenous women who wish to make a complaint in a safe and comfortable environment with better support services.

We are already a year after the public denunciation of Indigenous women in Val-d’Or and they are still waiting to find out if their charges will be filed to the Director of Criminal Penal Prosecutions (DCPP). The decision to forward the files to the DCPP or not will have an impact on the women who are undecided about filing a complaint. QNW recalls the importance of continuing to provide accompaniments services to women who have denounced or want to denounce violence and abuse. The SQ’s lawsuit against Radio-Canada makes this reality even more accurate.

“For QNW, these denunciations were only the tip of the iceberg. Despite the government efforts to pick up the pieces by financing projects and providing training to its officials, QNW reminds that the central issue remains the abuse and violence that still exist in the relationship between Indigenous women and the police. We therefore reiterate our position and we claim an independent investigation that would shed light on this situation.”- Viviane Michel, QNW’s President.