Quebec hands over Val d'Or abuse investigation to federal MMIW inquiry
Holding only 1 inquiry will spare alleged victims from testifying twice, Quebec's justice minister says
Quebec will not be launching its own investigation into allegations of violence against Indigenous women in Val-d'Or.
Instead, the Couillard government announced today it will put that work in the hands of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
Quebec will hand the investigation over to Ottawa and promises that the federal government will have access to all the information a provincial investigation would.
Quebec Justice Minister, Stéphanie Vallée, and the Minister of Native Affairs, Geoffrey Kelley, said this approach will be easier for the alleged victims.
"Think of these women. Think of these victims," Vallée said. "Do we really want to ask them to come share their experiences with us twice?"
Kelley added that a dual investigation would just lead to "similar questions being raised – at times, identical."
However, Kelley said that there is still a criminal investigation looking into the events in Val-d'Or. Last fall, Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête uncovered stories of sexual violence toward aboriginal women in the Quebec town, situated about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
The report included allegations that certain police officers would routinely pick up women who appeared to be intoxicated, drive them out of town and leave them to walk home in the cold. Some women alleged they were physically assaulted or made to perform sex acts.
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Criticism from Cree Nation
The Grand Council of the Crees criticized the province's decision, saying it doesn't sufficiently address the issue of alleged police misconduct towards Indigenous women in Val-d'Or.
"The allegations of police misconduct toward indigenous women that surfaced in Val-d'Or and in many other communities, and what continues to happen across the country, are appalling," said Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come.
"Even more so if we fail to take resolute and specific action to hold those responsible accountable."
Vallée said the inquiry will look into the underlying causes of violence against Indigenous women and subsequently make recommendations to prevent and counter violence against indigenous women and girls.
with files from Radio-Canada