'We're going in the right direction,' Val-d'Or mayor tells Quebec inquiry
Mayor Pierre Corbeil testifies before provincial inquiry into treatment of Indigenous people
The mayor of Val-d'Or, the city at the centre of an explosive abuse scandal that sparked a Quebec inquiry into the treatment of Indigenous people, says he's taking steps to address the underlying problems in his community.
Testifying at the inquiry on Tuesday, Pierre Corbeil said a "crisis of conscience" following the scandal led to improved collaboration between the municipal officials and Indigenous leaders, and changes in the way police relate to the local Indigenous population.
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"I think we have a better understanding of the problem of racism in Val-d'Or," he told the hearing.
"Not everything is perfect, but we're going in the right direction."
The Quebec government launched the inquiry last December, a year after Radio-Canada reported allegations by Indigenous women who said they were physically and sexually abused by provincial police officers based in Val-d'Or.
Corbeil was one of the first to ask for a probe after it was revealed last year that the Crown would not be pressing charges in relation to the scandal.
He was the last witness to testify before the commission breaks for the summer. Led by retired Superior Court justice Jacques Viens, the inquiry officially launched in March and is expected to complete its work by Nov. 30, 2018.
Véronique Picard, justice co-ordinator of the Quebec Native Women's Association, praised Corbeil for his leadership during what she said has been a difficult period.
"Pierre Corbeil has always been responding to this situation that happened in his city," Picard said prior to Corbeil's testimony.
"I think he showed a lot of respect, a lot of understanding, a lot of mobilization."
Picard says the upcoming summer break will allow all parties involved to reflect on what's been said at the commission so far.