OTTAWA – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today expressed his support for immediate action, including the option of establishing an independent inquiry, to address and investigate reported violence and mistreatment of Aboriginal women by Sûreté du Québec officers.
“I commend the courage of the victims for coming forward to share their stories,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “We must now honour their bravery by acting immediately on a full and independent investigation of the actions of the Sûreté du Québec police officers. I fully support AFNQL in exploring all options for immediate action and long-term plans to address this crisis.”
The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) and other organizations have called for an independent inquiry following last week’s reports by Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête which uncovered allegations of sexual violence against Aboriginal women in Val-d’Or, Quebec.
“The reports of abuse and violence against Aboriginal women by Quebec police officers underscores the importance of independent oversight and investigation of police agencies, something the AFN has been working toward in its efforts to develop a national action plan to address and end violence against Indigenous women and girls,” said National Chief Bellegarde.
“The AFNQL Chiefs are meeting tomorrow in Val d’Or to show support and to put forward a collective position on dealing with violence against our women and children,” said AFN Regional Chief for Quebec and Labrador Ghislain Picard. “Chiefs are considering options for immediate measures in order to respond to the broken relationship between our nations and the Sûreté du Québec. The Government of Quebec must respond to this culture of indifference when our members are the victims. Profound change is needed and we need to see this crisis addressed now.”
In addition to the AFN’s national efforts to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, the AFN released a comprehensive agenda for action earlier this Fall on a number of priority areas that would address long-standing challenges facing First Nations in Canada. Under the theme “Closing the Gap”, six broad areas were identified, including strengthening Fist Nations families and communities which identifies specific commitments required by the federal government to address and end violence, improve policing and recognize First Nations policing as an essential service, and achieve safety for First Nationsand First Nation communities.
For more information on AFN’s efforts to end violence please visit: www.afn.ca.