18 November
2016

Val-d’Or, November 18th, 2016 – Quebec Native Women (QNW) expresses disappointment, concern, and anger following the Crown prosecutor’s decision to press charges in just two of the 37 files containing allegations of sexual assault of Indigenous women by police officers.

”Once again, it is made clear that the criminal justice system is ill adapted to the needs and experiences of sexual assault victims, even less so when these victims are Indigenous women”, deplores Viviane Michel and she also precises that QNW believes and supports the women who reported. Their courageous acts have triggered an unprecedented wave of further reporting and solidarity, and were instrumental in breaking the silence around such injustice.

QNW also wishes to salute the unwavering strength and determination of these women who have expressed their intention to pursue their fight for justice. Together, they have opened the door to a conversation which had yet to unfold in Quebec, while shedding light on the systemic racism and discrimination deeply rooted within the Quebec justice system, notwithstanding the denial of Quebec’s political leaders. As independent civil observer Fannie Lafontaine expressed in her report, “in failing to recognize systemic racism, the legal system continues to enact a type of objectivity which perpetuates an unequal social order that police officers are actually trained to uphold”.

QNW recognizes that by decree, the Quebec government has expressed its intention to collaborate fully during the National inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. However, more than ever, the current crisis points to the urgent need for a specific look at the relationship between Indigenous people and the police in this province. As such, QNW demands and independent commission of public investigation in this regard.

As independent civil observer Fannie Lafontaine expressed in her report, “in failing to recognize systemic racism, the legal system continues to enact a type of objectivity which perpetuates an unequal social order that police officers are actually trained to uphold”. QNW recognizes that by decree, the Quebec government has expressed its intention to collaborate fully during the National inquiry on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. However, more than ever, the current crisis points to the urgent need for a specific look at the relationship between Indigenous people and the police in this province. QNW therefore demands and independent investigation in this regard.

Events in Val-d’Or have shown the extent to which the rapport between Indigenous people and the police is fraught with tension and mistrust. This lack of confidence in an institution that has a duty to ensure the safety of its citizens, demonstrates the important responsibility of the government to take concrete action, in consultation with Indigenous people, to stop this violence and bring justice to victims and their families.

” Today, we ask the Quebec Government, the Sûreté du Québec, and all other police forces in the province what they intend to do to re-establish trust, to ensure the safety of the women of our Nations, and to live up to their responsibility towards reconciliation. The Government of Quebec must listen to and collaborate with Indigenous organizations and their allies, as well as commit first and foremost to enacting change in order to eliminate violence and racism within its very own institutions.” – Viviane Michel

About QNW

Quebec Native Women represents Indigenous women from communities and urban areas in the province of Quebec since 1974. https://www.faq-qnw.org

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Source :

Laureanne Fontaine, Communication Officer

communication@faq-qnw.org

Tel.: 450-632-0088 ex. 232