Quebec to look at violence faced by aboriginal women
Hearings could start before Christmas
A legislative committee is poised to look into higher than average rates of domestic and sexual violence faced by aboriginal women in Quebec, an idea in the works for two years and an issue close to Premier Philippe Couillard's heart.
"Breaking the silence is difficult," says Pénélope Guay, co-founder of Messinak House, an aboriginal women's shelter. She welcomes the committee hearings and believes men also need to be included in hearings because "they are also part of the solution. They need to speak."
Committee hearings, similar to the ones that took place around end-of-life care, could start before the Christmas holiday. The idea is seen by some MNAs and advocates as a starting point to finding solutions. Statistics show 80 per cent of aboriginal women experience domestic violence.
'Not the only one'
"He fractured my jaw. I took myself to the hospital," says 27-year-old Sylvie of her ex-partner. CBC agreed to withhold her real name in order to protect her identity.
"When I gave birth, it wasn't with a happy face. I had a bruise on my cheek because he beat me the night before." Her life has been marked by violence — she suffered from both domestic and child abuse.
Sylvie found help, but it is hundreds of kilometres away from her Côte-Nord community. Survivors say help is hard to find. In their communities, everyone knows everyone, and beyond that, some women say police there don't do much.
"Why do I have to leave? Why is it me who has to suffer and leave my children while he walks around freely in our community?" asks Marie, a 52-year-old Innu woman, also from the Côte-Nord. She left her home after her partner tried to attack her with a saw. "I'm not the only one," she says.
Prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau has promised an investigation into another problem facing aboriginal women. During the election, Trudeau committed to an inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, an idea repeatedly rejected by the Harper government.
With files from Martine Biron.