Philippe Couillard to meet with First Nations on Val-d'Or abuse allegations

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he is open to meeting with aboriginal leaders about the police abuse allegations in Val-d'Or.

'He has to take on this responsibility and meet with aboriginal leaders,' Ghislain Picard says of premier

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he's "always met, with pleasure, the First Nations chiefs." (CBC)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard says he will meet with aboriginal leaders on Nov. 4 to discuss the police abuse allegations in Val-d'Or.

"I've always met, with pleasure, the First Nations chiefs," Couilard told reporters in Quebec City.

"I'm probably the premier the most available for them. I will continue to be."

Quebec's First Nations leaders came out of an all-day meeting Tuesday with a list of demands, including a meeting with the premier, to ease tensions and address the violence that aboriginal women in Val-d'Or allegedly suffered at the hands of provincial police.

Ghislain Picard, the Assembly of First Nations regional chief for Quebec and Labrador, said Couillard needs to be a key player in resolving the conflict.

"We can't go higher than the premier," Picard said. 

"He has no choice. He has to take on this responsibility and meet with aboriginal leaders. There is a crisis in Val-d'Or."

Last week, Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête aired a shocking report in which aboriginal women in Val-d'Or alleged they were sexually assaulted by provincial police officers.

Women told Enquête that police 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.

After the report aired, eight officers already under investigation for abuse of power and assault were suspended or put on administrative duties. None of those eight officers are under investigation for sex-related acts.

Police confirmed Tuesday they also investigating two other officers on sex-related allegations. One of those dates back to the 1980s, and the officer has since died, while the officer in the other case has not been identified.

with files from CBC's Ryan Hicks


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