VAL-D’OR (Quebec) October 27, 2015 – After a call to rally from AFNQL’s Chief Ghislain Picard, Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come travelled to Val-d’Or to participate in a meeting of Quebec Chiefs after the revelations courageously brought forth by Bianca Moushoun, Angela King, and Priscilla Papatie during a report of Radio- Canada’s investigative program “Enquête” were revealed. The original focus of “Enquête” was to shed light on the disappearance of Sindy Ruperthouse, missing for 17 months. It was during the investigative reporting for the Sindy Ruperthouse story that a graver issue was revealed.
The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government will focus on Sindy Ruperthouse and her family, on the brave women who came forth in denunciating abusive actions from the SQ, and on the assurances that Val-d’Or can provide a safe and welcoming environment for First Nations women and their families living, studying, or visiting in Val-d’Or.
Following a teleconference on Monday, October 26 with all Cree Nation Chiefs and Cree entity leaders, the following three actions were supported and announced by Grand Chief Dr. Coon Come:
First, the GCCEI/CNG has met with the Ruperthouse-Wyde family earlier today to show support and solidarity. The Grand Chief announced that the Cree Nation Government will be offering a $50,000 reward for details that will solve the disappearance of Sindy Ruperthouse. The offer of the reward will be coordinated with authorities to ensure that it does not hinder any current efforts.
“I do not have the luxury to be silent on this issue. I am a father, I have three daughters, I have three grand-daughters. Our people matter. Our women matter. First Nations count.” – Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come
Second, the GCCEI/CNG is also proposing a clear and simple mandate for the independent Commission that all First Nations have called for and that Governments have promised: To inquire into and report on allegations of racism and discrimination in the management of cases related to missing and murdered Aboriginal women by examining the response of the justice system and other public institutions at all three levels of Government: Federal, Provincial, and Municipal.
“The status quo is unacceptable. To take a middle ground on this issue is unacceptable. Either you’re for or against it. If you’re for a national inquiry you’re with us, if you’re not, you’re against us. This is not a Liberal issue, nor an NDP issue, certainly not a Conservative issue, it’s a national disgrace, it’s a national issue that must be addressed by the Prime Minister Elect Trudeau. We demand and are calling upon him to create, within 30 days of his appointment, a national inquiry on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.” – Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come
The GCCEI/CNG is prepared to provide resources from its own Eeyou Eenou Police Force. This investigations in SQ abuse perpetrated on Aboriginal women must involve First Nations resources.
Third, the Cree Nation Government has received full support to cancel all upcoming public events in Val-d’Or, including the hockey/broomball tournament in December. The Cree have many positive personal and professional relationships in Val-d’Or and there are many Cree that having taken residence in the town of Val-d’Or which the Cree will never abandon. However, until the leadership of Val-d’Or can effectively demonstrate that we are even welcome in Val-d’Or, Cree Nation activities will remain suspended.
To have real change we need to address the systematic racism that has been casting a shadow over many of the cities and towns across this country, not only over Val-d’Or.
“We do not only want a declaration of support. We want to see concrete action and assurances that our families are safe. The onus is not only on us to find solutions, but on the municipal, provincial, and federal governments to stand with these brave women and bring the support needed.” – Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come