'Betrayed, humiliated' Val-d'Or women speak out after no charges against police accused of abuse
6 officers have been on paid suspension since investigation began in October 2015
Indigenous women who came forward with allegations of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of Quebec provincial police in Val-d'Or say they're disappointed and concerned to learn the Crown is not expected to pursue charges.
"It's like encouraging the police to continue to do things," said Joyce Thomas in an interview with CBC's French-language service Radio-Canada.
Thomas and 11 other women, who allege that provincial police officers abused them, signed a statement which was read out during a news conference at the Native Friendship Centre in Val-d'Or on Thursday.
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It was the first time they've spoken out since Radio-Canada sources said Crown prosecutors will not charge six Quebec provincial police officers who were under investigation. The officers have been on paid suspension since the investigation began in October 2015.
The Crown has scheduled a news conference Friday to make its findings public. Montreal police turned over to prosecutors 37 files involving 31 alleged victims.
In the statement, the women describe feeling "betrayed, humiliated" and expressed "fear of the return of the suspended police officers, fear of reprisals, fear for our own security."
Joséphine Papatie is another alleged victim who signed the statement. She said she met earlier in the week with Crown prosecutors who informed her that no charges would be pursued for her file.
"I don't believe they did their job," said Papatie to Radio-Canada. "Why? I can't put that into words."
On Wednesday, Fannie Lafontaine, the civilian auditor who was tasked with observing the investigation as it was carried out by Montreal police, released her report and said it was a "fair and impartial" process. She added, however, that criminal investigations are limited and do not address the deeper issues facing Indigenous people in Quebec.
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Both Thomas and Papatie said they're concerned for the future of their children.
"I have kids, young girls; will this happen to them too?" said Thomas.
In the conclusion of the statement, the women called on the government of Quebec to launch a public and independent inquiry to conduct a full investigation. Some Indigenous leaders have made the same suggestion in the wake of the investigation.
The allegations of abuse first came to light after a report by Radio-Canada's investigative programEnquête.
Members of the Sûreté du Québec are suing Radio-Canada for airing the report.
The officers claim the report was "biased, misleading," and its content was "inaccurate, incomplete and untrue," and created a hostile working environment for officers in Val-d'Or, a city 600 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
With files from Radio-Canada