Montreal

More aboriginal women allege abuse by police in Val-d'Or, Que.

Leaders of First Nations community centres in Quebec say more aboriginal women are coming forward with abuse allegations — one day after Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête aired a story about aboriginal women in Val-d'Or alleging they were sexually assaulted by provincial police officers.

New complaints come 1 day after Radio-Canada airs allegations of sex assault

This woman, who asked not to be identified, shows a head wound she alleges was sustained in an altercation with a police officer who threw her out of his car after she refused to perform a sex act. (Radio-Canada)

Leaders of First Nations community centres in Quebec say more aboriginal women are coming forward with abuse complaints — one day after Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête aired a story about aboriginal women in Val-d'Or alleging they were sexually assaulted by provincial police officers.

Edith Cloutier, director of the native friendship centre in Val-d'Or, says more aboriginal women are coming forward with abuse complaints against police officers. (Radio-Canada)
"We understand that there will be more women coming out ... We know that's just the tip of the iceberg," said Edith Cloutier, executive director of the Val-d'Or Native Friendship Centre. "We did have women today calling the Friendship Centre, dropping by … and they want to file complaints."

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.

Since the program aired Thursday night, eight officers allegedly involved are under investigation and have either been put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.

Quebec Public Safety Minister Lise Thériault announced today that an investigation will be carried out by Montreal police, not the Sûreté du Québec, so that officers would not be investigating members of their own force. Thériault also suggested the government may launch an inquiry into the matter.

Montreal police issued a statement Friday to say investigators will meet with the complainants, and are asking anyone with information about the allegations to come forward.

"The SPVM invites anyone who wishes to share information on this dossier to contact investigators at 1-844-615-3118," the statement read.

The force would not say if any other women have come forward.

The Quebec Native Women's Association said it expects there will be more complaints.

'We absolutely salute their courage,' Alana Boileau, co-ordinator for the Quebec Native Women's Association, says about the women who have come forward with complaints. (CBC)
"When we were watching the [Enquête] report, we were expecting that this might start a wave of reporting so we are thinking that we might be hearing a lot more of these stories in the next few weeks," said Alana Boileau, justice and public safety co-ordinator for the association.

"These are things that aboriginal women have been talking about with each other and talking about with us, our association, for years," Boileau said.

"This is the first time they are talking about it face to face with journalists and we absolutely salute their courage. It's not an easy thing to do ... We hope that aboriginal women who come out have the support and the services they need, as well as their families, and we also hope the women feel safe coming out with these stories."

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