Val-d'Or case: Quebec First Nations chiefs, Premier Philippe Couillard meet

The meeting focused on the measures taken by Quebec following the allegations of abuse against Aboriginal women in Val-d'Or by Quebec provincial police officers.

Human rights lawyer Fannie Lafontaine named independent observer

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard will meet with First Nations chiefs about the allegations of abuse of Quebec provincial officers in Val-d'Or. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard appealed for calm in the wake of the Val d'Or crisis.

His meeting this morning with First Nations chiefs focused on the measures taken by the province following allegations of abuse against Aboriginal women in Val-d'Or by Quebec provincial police officers.

New observer for police investigation

Couillard announced that Fannie Lafontaine will be the independent observer appointed to oversee the police investigation led by the Montreal police into the allegations.

Lafontaine is a human rights lawyer and the Canada research chair on International Criminal Justice and Human Rights at Université Laval.

However, many of the First Nations chiefs feel that the government should have included them in the decision-making process.

"We believed that it would at least be a joint decision-making process but that was far from the case," said Ghislain Picard, the chief of the assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

Couillard calls upon the federal government to act

For now, Couillard says, Quebec will hold off on its own inquiry into the Val-d'Or allegations. "We will first see what the federal government has to say," said Couillard.  

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau needs to move ahead with its an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women, and also provide more financial support to First Nations, said Couillard.

Picard agreed, saying that it needs to happen as soon as possible but Quebec should launch its own independent investigation into Val-d'Or.

"We want this to happen with as little delays as possible considering the crisis in front of us," said Picard.

Couillard called upon the new Liberal federal government to intervene on issues like lack of housing or clean drinking water that persist on First Nations territories.

"It's not acceptable for a wealthy country like Canada," said Couillard.

Additional funding for Aboriginal projects in Val-d'Or

The provincial government will pump $6.1 million into various social projects located in the community.

This includes money for the Native Friendship Centre as well as Chez Willie, a day centre for those in difficulty.

With files from La Presse Canadienne


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