PRESS RELEASE: Failure of Authorities to Press Charges Against Officers Accused of Sexual Abuse in Val-d’Or Exemplifies Systemic Violence Inflicted Upon Indigenous Women

November 16, 2016 (Ottawa, ON) – After  voicing their support of the brave Indigenous women of the Val d’Or region who came forward with their disturbing stories of abuse by Quebec police, it is with great sadness that the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) acknowledges that six of the officers under investigation will not be charged.  

Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête brought media attention to a number of complaints regarding abuse and sexual assault by police officers in the Val d’Or region in October of 2015.  After hearing that they weren’t alone in their dehumanizing and debasing experiences, more Indigenous women with similar stories of their mistreatment dating back as many as ten years stepped forward to generate a total of 37 complaints.  It’s the lack of evidence in those cases as well as more recent ones that the Crown prosecutors are citing as the reasons for not pressing charges against the officers who were allegedly involved.  

Now, the positive outcome of having so many women speak their truths and inspire others to do the same has become yet another story of the marginalization and disenfranchisement of Indigenous women.  Lack of faith in the authorities’ fair treatment of Indigenous people, fear of humiliation, and a culture of silence are vital pieces in the perpetual cycle of violence that Indigenous women experience.

“Our organization condemns all forms of violence against our mothers, daughters, sisters, aunties and grandmothers, and seeks to express our continued support of these and all brave survivors for whom justice has not been served,” says NWAC President Francyne Joe.  “This appallingly inadequate response to women’s cries for help in this unfolding of events exemplifies the need for an immediate address of the strained relationship between the authorities and First Nations, Inuit, and Métis even beyond the slow-moving inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is founded on the collective goal to enhance, promote, and foster the social, economic, cultural and political well-being of First Nations and Métis women within First Nation, Métis and Canadian societies.  As a national organization representing Aboriginal women since 1974, NWAC’s mandate is to achieve equality for all Aboriginal women in Canada.

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CONTACT:

Lynne Groulx
Executive Director
1 Nicholas Street, 9th Floor
Ottawa, ON K1N 7B7
Toll-free 1-800-461-4043
Tel.: 613-722-3033
Email: lgroulx@nwac.ca

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