As you enter Val d'Or, northern Quebec, just off the side of highway 117, there is a small memorial, including flowers and a cross. It marks the spot where where the remains of a young aboriginal woman were found. Jeannie Poucachiche was murdered in 2003, on her 20th birthday.
Every year in October, women and children come here to remember. This year they were also here to remember Cindy Ruperthouse, a 44-year-old Algonquin woman who has not been seen since the spring of 2014. Another of the missing among the many missing in Canada — a case that never made the headlines and was slowly fading from memory.
Radio-Canada's investigative program, Enquête, wanted to know whether the police had done all they could to find Ruperthouse. Their investigation took them to Val d'Or, a town in northern Quebec.
What they found there was shocking.
- Abuse allegations in Val-d'Or stemmed from Sindy Ruperthouse disappearance
- OPINION: Reaction to Val-d'Or allegations outlines Canada's racial divide
- Quebec police officers put on leave pending sex abuse investigation
They said officers routinely picked up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold. Some allege they were physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.
Since Enquête aired its report in October, there have been several developments in this story.
More women has come forward with allegations. The investigation of police abuse in Val d'Or was transferred to the Montreal police force, as many were questioning the validity of SQ investigating the actions of its own members.
A new police chief, a woman, is now in place in Val d'Or. Police cruisers will now all be equipped with cameras and they will often be accompanied by social workers.
The Cree of northern Quebec suspended all activities in the town, including their lucrative annual hockey tournament, which brings millions of dollars to the community.
More resources have been put in place to help the aboriginal homeless in Val d'Or. There is more funding available for aboriginal housing, a day shelter for the homeless, and more front line resources.
The investigation looking into Ruperthouse's disappearance took another turn. The police are now treating it as a homicide.
And Quebec's National Assembly has begun its own inquiry into the sexual abuse of aboriginal women.
If you have any information you would like to share relating to these cases or others Enquête would like to hear about it. We are continuing our investigation and can be reached: email@example.com.