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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones

Val-d'Or, un an plus tard : le gouvernement poursuit ses efforts pour soutenir les femmes autochtones

One year ago, the Radio-Canada show Enquête revealed serious allegations of abuse of vulnerable indigenous women by Val-d’Or police officers.  These allegations shocked and angered Quebecers, prompting a vast outcry.  The distress felt by the women involved in the incidents, and the courage they demonstrated by denouncing the acts allegedly committed against them, demanded swift intervention by the Government of Quebec.

In the days which followed the revelations, the Premier met with First Nations chiefs and announced immediate financial assistance totalling more than $6 million, which allowed a number of concrete steps to be taken quickly.  The capacity of the Centre d’amitié autochtone de Val-d’Or to receive incident reports and act on them was considerably strengthened.  An indigenous day centre was also opened in Val-d’Or to meet the needs of homeless indigenous persons and women in difficulty.  A major social housing project containing 24 units for indigenous families, on which construction has already begun, was also announced.

All investigations related to the allegations reported in Enquête were transferred, without delay, to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM). Also, so as to ensure that the investigations would be conducted in an impartial, ethical and transparent manner, an independent observer was appointed, and two indigenous police officers joined the SPVM’s team.  Additionally, since the creation of the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), each and every complaint of a sexual nature which is made against one or more police officers has automatically been transferred to the BEI.  Finally, the Government of Quebec granted to Native Para-Judicial Services of Quebec the mandate of assisting indigenous persons who wish to file a complaint, whether the incident is alleged to have taken place in Val-d’Or or elsewhere on Quebec’s territory.

These measures allowed the government to address the most urgent concerns, but our efforts must continue in the long term.  It is essential to tackle the various problems faced by indigenous peoples, not just now, but in the months and years to come.  It is in this vein that the Government of Quebec announced, last Monday, a support program including more than $9 million in additional funding, which will be particularly devoted to helping indigenous persons in urban settings.

The events which allegedly took place in Val-d’Or also raised the question of whether a public inquiry should be held to examine relations between Quebec’s police forces and members of First Nations communities.  Keenly aware that this issue was a critical one, the Government of Quebec worked to ensure that the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, which officially began last September 1st, will address this issue.

Indeed, the Government of Quebec adopted a decree, under the auspices of the Act respecting public inquiry commissions, which made specific reference to the events alleged to have taken place in Val-d’Or and required that the National Inquiry examine relations between public services within Quebec’s jurisdiction (police forces, health and social services institutions and educational facilities) and members of First Nations communities.

This means that, in Quebec, the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women must also examine the work of local police forces.  In particular, it must present a report to the Government of Quebec on this issue.

For the past year, the Government of Quebec has therefore actively implemented a wide variety of new initiatives which will tangibly improve the quality of life of indigenous persons in urban settings, and in particular, indigenous women.

There is still a significant amount of work to be done.  But one year after the Val-d’Or allegations, there are positive and encouraging signs.  We wish to highlight the remarkable work that has been done, and continues to be done, by local community organizations, by the City of Val-d’Or, and by First Nations leaders, to meet the challenges we face together.  The Government of Quebec will continue to work in close collaboration with our community partners on these issues.  Together, we will continue to move forward.

 

Geoffrey Kelley
Minister responsible for Native Affairs

Martin Coiteux
Minister of Municipal Affairs and Land Occupancy
Minister of Public Security

Lise Thériault
Deputy Premier
Minister responsible for the Status of Women

Luc Blanchette
Minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
Minister responsible for the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region

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Secrétariat aux affaires autochtones
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Online as of: October 24, 2016