Cree Nation cancels events in Val-d'Or, Que.
Boycott will continue until the 'mayor can assure us that our people ... are safe here,' says Grand Chief
The Cree Nation won't be holding any meetings or events in Val-d'Or, Que., until further notice to stand in solidarity with aboriginal women who have come forward with allegations of sexual assault against police officers in the city, says the head of the Cree Nation Government.
Eight Quebec provincial police officers are under investigation for sex abuse against aboriginal women in the community of Val-d'Or.
Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come said they are taking the action "to show the non-native population of Val-d'Or that we are standing with the native women until the mayor can assure us that our people and our women are safe here, as our women are the ones who shop here."
Coon Come made the announcement as he came out of an emergency meeting called by the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador in Val-d'Or on Tuesday.
Representatives from the Cree School Board, Cree Board of Health and Social Services and the Cree Women of Eeyou Istchee Association held a conference call with Cree Nation Government leaders and community chiefs to discuss what they would do in the wake of allegations made to the Radio Canada program Enquete.
Coon Come says he was angered by the reaction of the mayor of Val-d'Or to the crisis.
"It sounded like his first concern was about money," said Coon Come.
"There was no mention of standing with our women in what happened, or even to stand with the Eeyou/Eenou, to get to the bottom of what may have happened. The only thing he talked about was the economic impact that the city of Val-d'Or would feel."
For people living in the nearby Cree communities such as Waswanipi, and coastal Cree communities such as Waskaganish, Chisasibi, Wemindji, Nemaska and Eastmain, Val-d'Or is a central and popular stopping place. It's where many people shop for groceries, buy trucks or other large items, fuel up their vehicles, and participate in large gatherings.
Coon Come confirmed that a popular broomball and hockey tournament held every December in Val-d'Or which brings hundreds of players and their families into the city in the weeks leading up to Christmas will be cancelled for this year. They are not trying to relocate the event.
The CNG is also putting up a $50,000 reward for help with the investigation in the disappearance of Sindy Ruperthouse, which police are now calling a homicide. The 45-year-old First Nations woman went missing from Val-d'Or 17 months ago.
Coon Come met with Ruperthouse's parents Tuesday in Val-d'Or.
"It was sad, and they were crying and knowing, too, that we are standing with them," said Coon Come.