NEMASKA, Eeyou Istchee (August 17, 2016) – After the seal of silence was broken in October of 2015 with allegations of abuse at the hands of police officers that sent shockwaves throughout Val d’Or and the province, the Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government pledged to stand with First Nations women, girls, and their families in a quest for justice and accountability. Since then, the Grand Council has been steadfast in calling on Quebec to establish for an independent provincial judicial inquiry to look into this specific issue of police misconduct towards Indigenous women and girls.
Today, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Geoffrey Kelley and Minister of Justice Stéphanie Vallée announced that the Government of Québec has adopted a decree to give the National Inquiry the powers of a commission of inquiry under Québec law, including the power to compel witnesses to appear and produce documents and to formulate recommendations. The National Inquiry will also be empowered to consider relations between Indigenous women and Quebec institutions, such as police, education and health and social services.
However, the measure announced today by Québec fails to address the key issue: the allegations of police misconduct towards Indigenous women.
The omission of this matter from the mandate of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls is a grave concern. Québec's announcement today does not address this omission.
The Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/Cree Nation Government is disappointed at Quebec’s continuing refusal to establish this independent provincial judicial inquiry, as proposed by the Cree Nation Government, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, the Assembly of First Nations, the Eeyou Istchee
James Bay Regional Government, the Native Friendship Center of Val d’Or, and of course, the City of Val d’Or.
"The allegations of police misconduct toward indigenous women that surfaced in Val d’Or and in many other communities, and what continues to happen across the country, are appalling, but even more so if we fail to take resolute and specific action to hold those responsible accountable and to prevent such abuse in the future. As mentioned many times since October, I will stand with anyone who will work towards bringing an end to violence against First Nations women and girls." – Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come
Québec missed an opportunity today to correct this omission. As matters stand now, the issue of police misconduct toward Indigenous women is likely to be drowned out by the many other issues the National Inquiry must consider. That is why the Cree Nation reiterates its call for an independent provincial judicial inquiry specifically to address this matter.