Montreal

Quebec First Nations chief calls for independent inquiry into Val-d'Or allegations

Ghislain Picard, chief of the assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, is calling for an an independent inquiry into the actions of provincial police officers working in Val-d'Or.

Allegations raise questions about relationship between police and aboriginal people, Ghislain Picard says

Ghislain Picard says the allegations against provincial police officers working in Val-d'Or raise questions about the relationship between police and aboriginal people across Quebec. (Trevor Hagan/Canadian Press)

The chief of the assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is calling for an independent inquiry into the actions of provincial police officers working in Val-d'Or.

Ghislain Picard says an investigation into the allegations, including those detailed last week on Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête, should not be led by another police force.

"If there are other cases of abuse by the force, the fear is that the victims aren't going to come out and make a complaint," Picard told CBC Montreal's Daybreak on Monday.

Picard also said the allegations raise questions about the relationship between police and aboriginal people across the province. 

Several women have accused Quebec provincial police officers of sexual assault and abuse of power.

According to the women, police officers routinely picked up those who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold.

Since Enquête aired last Thursday, the eight officers alleged of wrongdoing have either been put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.

An investigation into the matter, originally launched last May, was transferred last week from the Sûreté du Québec to Montreal police after more serious allegations were levelled on Enquête.

Waiting on Ottawa?

The opposition Parti Québécois has also called for an independent inquiry. 

Quebec Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley says confidence needs to be restored in police following the allegations. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)
But t
he Quebec government says any examination should be done as part of a countrywide inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, which was promised by prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau.

"Anything we do in Quebec has to be complimentary to what the federal government is going to do," Quebec Aboriginal Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley told Daybreak.

Kelley said the Montreal police force was brought in to provide "reassurance" to the population the investigation would be conducted fairly, adding that First Nations and police have historically not had "an easy relationship."

"We have to sit down and restore confidence in our police forces, because that's what we need in our society," he said.

He added that the Quebec government plans to set up an independent body by early next year that will be able to investigate allegations against police.

After meeting with local leaders and residents on the weekend, Kelley said the province needs to find ways to improve the situation there quickly.

The chiefs of Quebec's First Nations will meet in Val-d'Or, a community of some 31,000 people located about 433 kilometres northwest of Montreal, tomorrow.

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