The Current

Aboriginal women's ongoing allegations of police abuse prove national inquiry needed

Allegations against Val-d'Or, Quebec police describe officers driving Indigenous women out of town to walk back without shoes in the freezing cold. At the same time, an investigation into allegations of similar treatment in B.C. is adding to the urgency of those insisting we need a national inquiry.
Bianca Moushoun is among the aboriginal women in Val d'Or, Que. who have filed formal complaints against Quebec police officers who she said gave her beer and traded sex acts for money and cocaine. (Radio-Canada)

After years of silence, protesters took to the streets of Val-d'Or, Quebec this past weekend.  It's all in support of local aboriginal women.... women whose stories of alleged abuse from the local provincial police have rocked the city and the province.

A woman holds up a sign in support of aboriginal women at a march on Saturday in Val-d'Or, QC. (Sandra Ataman/Radio-Canada)

Their stories aired last week, in a report from our colleagues at Radio-Canada. And they are disturbing allegations.

A woman, who asked not to be identified, shows a head wound she said was sustained in an altercation with a police officer who threw her out of his car after she refused to perform a sex act. (Radio-Canada)
 Stories of officers allegedly forcing women into sex acts, and physically assaulting them; officers allegedly picking up women who appear to be drunk, and dropping them outside of town... leaving them to walk back in the cold.

The province's Public Security Minister, Lise Theriault, announced that eight officers — already subjects of an internal investigation — would be put on leave. She was also asked how she felt, personally, about the allegations.

Quebec politician's emotional response to sex assault allegations

8 years ago
Duration 1:00
Featured VideoPublic Safety Minister Lise Thériault breaks down while answering media questions about claims of sexual assault by police officers on aboriginal women in Val D'Or, Que.

The investigation has been handed over now to the Montreal city police and the Sûreté du Québec has committed to cooperate with the probe. But these are not the first allegations of wrongdoing by Canadian police against aboriginal women.

A 2013 Human Rights Watch report detailed allegations of excessive force and sexual assault by police in Northern British Columbia — allegations a RCMP watchdog group is currently investigating. 

And it's these and other cases that continue to raise questions about the relationship between Canada's police, and indigenous women. 

  • Meghan Rhoad is a Women's Rights Researcher with Human Rights Watch. She's the author of the report about the relationship between police and indigenous women in Northern BC -- it's called: Those Who Take Us Away.
  • Michele Audette is a speaker and advisor on aboriginal women's issues, and the former president of the Native Women's Association of Canada.

We did put in a request to the The Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP but were told that at this point in the process it could not discuss the report publicly.  There is no timeline for when that report will be released - it depends on how long it takes for the RCMP to respond. 

We also put in a request for comment from the RCMP - it declined our offer to participate in the discussion this morning.   

This segment was produced by The Current's Liz Hoath, Idella Sturino and Montreal Network Producer Susan McKenzie.