Quebec launches inquiry into treatment of aboriginal people
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 3:32PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, December 21, 2016 6:36PM EST
Retired superior court judge Jacques Viens will preside over an inquiry into the relationship between indigenous people and public services in Quebec.
That will include police forces, correctional services, health care, and social services.
Aboriginal chiefs and cabinet ministers joined Premier Philippe Couillard in Quebec City for the announcement.
Cree Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come was very happy the provincial government is finally moving forward with an investigation.
"I am very pleased today... We are now standing on the right side of history," said Coon Come.
Indigenous leaders throughout Quebec have been demanding an inquiry for more than a year, ever since several women stepped forward in Val d'Or to say they had been abused and sexually assaulted by police officers.
Indian Affairs Minister Geoff Kelley said the Val d'Or accusations demonstrated that trust has been broken.
"We want to restore the links of confidence between various police forces and the communities they serve," said Kelley.
"The mandate that we now have is a broad one that looks at areas of systemic racism, so it's quite a different question from the question of just a police inquiry."
An investigation into the Val d'Or accusations is still underway, but to date no officers from Val d'Or have been charged.
After analyzing the case files, the Crown determined that ten of the accusations did not involve a criminal act.
The other accusations included 14 allegations of sexual assault, 15 of assault, and nine of kidnapping and/or abandoning people in far-off locations, also known as starlight tours.
The investigators said they believed the women had been assaulted, but unfortunately the victims were not able to provide enough details to concretely identify their attackers.
Of those cases where the investigations are complete, the Crown has only charged two officers: Alain Juneau and Jean-Luc Volant, both of whom were based in Schefferville.
Juneau has been charged with sexual assault and Volant with uttering threats.
The Viens inquiry will not re-examine the Val d'Or accusations, but will look back at the past 15 years of relations between indigenous people and public officials.
The process is expected to take nearly two years, with a report due by Nov. 30, 2018.