March held in Val-d'Or for aboriginal women alleging Quebec police sex abuse
Supporters send 'message of love' to those who allege police abused them
Several hundred people marched through the rainy streets of Val-d'Or, Que., last night to show their solidarity with the aboriginal women who have come forward with a series of grave accusations against Quebec provincial police.
"The message is a message of love," said organizer Manon Richmond.
"We just want to say, 'we know your pain, we know your suffering.'"
- Aboriginal women's claims of police sex abuse under investigation
- Quebec police put on leave pending sex abuse investigation
- More aboriginal women allege abuse by police in Val-d'Or
Earlier this week, Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête aired a story about aboriginal women in the northern community alleging they were abused and sexually assaulted by provincial police officers.
According to the women, police officers routinely picked up those who appeared to be intoxicated, drove them out of town and left them to walk home in the cold.
Since the program aired on Thursday evening, several more aboriginal women have come forward with abuse complaints to local First Nations community centres.
The eight officers allegedly involved are under investigation and have either been put on leave or transferred to administrative duty.
Quebec Public Safety Minister Lise Thériault said Friday her office had been aware of the investigation since May, but told reporters she was "just as shocked as the rest of the population" when she learned of the details on Enquête.
The probe has been handed over to Montreal police from the Sûreté du Québec, so that officers would not be investigating members of their own force.
Val-d'Or Mayor Pierre Corbeil said the allegations have shaken the community. He said it was important for residents to come together to denounce violence.
At the march, one supporter held a sign "demanding justice" for the women who went public.
Another sign read, "Grandmother, mother, daughter, wife, sister — stop the violence against women."
One woman taking part said she wanted to show her support for "the brave women who told their story."
With files from Radio-Canada's Sandra Ataman