SQ knew about misconduct allegations in Val-d'Or 2 years before Enquête report, retired officer testifies

Jean Vicaire, who spent over two decades with the Sûreté du Québec, said a local politician tipped him off to the allegations in Val-d'Or in 2013. He said he then told his superior.

Retired Sûreté du Québec officer Jean Vicaire says a politician tipped him off to the allegations in 2013

Jean Vicaire worked with the SQ for over two decades. He said provincial police need to seriously reflect on their links to Indigenous communities. (Viens Commission)

The Sûreté du Québec knew about physical and sexual misconduct allegations against officers in Val-d'Or in 2013, a retired provincial police officer testified earlier this week.

That's two years before Radio-Canada's investigative news program Enquête brought the allegations to light — sparking a wave of outrage and the launch of an inquiry into relations between Indigenous people and public services in Quebec, known as the Viens Commission.

The 2015 Enquête report delved into allegations that SQ officers had paid Indigenous women in Val-d'Or, a town over 500 kilometres from Montreal, for sex acts.

The women also alleged that officers would drive them out to a rural area and leave them there.

Testifying before the Viens Commission this week, Jean Vicaire — who spent over two decades with the SQ and worked on building better relations between the force and Indigenous people — said a local politician tipped him off to the allegations in 2013.

At the time, he was on secondment in the nearby community of Lac-Simon.

When he went back to the SQ, he told his superior about the allegations, Vicaire testified. He said the man responded by asking if a specific officer had been named.

"The word is stunned," said Vicaire, about his reaction to that response.

He told the inquiry he believed an investigation was carried out.

Vicaire said it's important for police to have a respectful approach when it comes to relations with Indigenous people, and engage in frequent dialogue with communities.

The SQ declined to be interviewed because the matter is before an inquiry.

With files from Catou MacKinnon