Quebec confirms it will not hold provincial inquiry into Val-d’Or allegations

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After a prolonged investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse against Indigenous women in northern Quebec by Sûreté du Québec officers, the Quebec government has now confirmed it doesn’t consider the scandal – which allegedly included starlight tours and solicitations of sexual favours – worthy of a provincial inquiry.

Instead, the government said it would defer to the federal government’s Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, scheduled to begin this September.

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come takes on Premier Couillard

Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come takes on Premier Couillard

Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley and Justice Minster Stephanie Vallée made the announcement August 17, much to the frustration of the Cree Nation Government, the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, Quebec Native Women’s Association, and other Indigenous organizations.

“We have consistently taken the position that it is absolutely essential that Quebec launch an independent judicial inquiry into the allegations which were brought forward by Cree and Algonquin women last October regarding abuses by SQ officers in the Val-d’Or area,” Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come told the Nation. “There must be an independent judicial inquiry specifically looking into these allegations, their merits, findings of whether charges need to be laid against specific officers and determinations of further legal recourses.”

While Kelley noted that a criminal investigation into certain SQ officers is still underway, Coon Come and AFNQL Grand Chief Ghislain Picard disagree with Quebec’s position that the federal inquiry will bring sufficient justice to the victims.

“There’s a sense of mistrust between our communities and the SQ,” said Picard in an interview with the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. “That needs to be restored. And the only way to do it is to have a proper and adequate inquiry into the situation.”

In response to Kelley’s argument that the women concerned shouldn’t be subjected to questioning on multiple occasions, Picard responded that the victims and their loved ones should be the ones who decide how to tell their stories, not the provincial government.

“Let’s ask the families how they feel about it,” Picard said. “I’m sure there are cases where people would say ‘Well, let’s look at it closely.’ Maybe a federal inquiry or a national inquiry will not go to that extent.”

Regional Chief Ghislain Picard and Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come

Regional Chief Ghislain Picard and Grand Chief Matthew Coon Come



The federal MMIW inquiry follows an extensive pre-inquiry process that gathered recommendations from some 2100 participants who are affected or familiar with the phenomenon of missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

The inquiry’s commissioners have a mandate to “look at all underlying causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls including systemic issues…make concrete recommendations to end the unacceptably high rates of violence, as well as the authority to examine institutional policies and practices such as policing or child welfare.”

To Coon Come, the federal inquiry is not sufficient to address the situation in Val-d’Or or other northern communities that have since seen allegations of police abuse against Aboriginal women.

“What we would like to see come out of a [provincial judicial] inquiry is the truth,” Coon Come concluded in an interview with the Nation. “If the allegations are found to be supported by sufficient evidence to lay charges, then this is what must be done, and it must be done as swiftly as possible.”  

Where the federal process will examine how Canada can work to eliminate systemic and institutional racism against Indigenous peoples, Coon Come believes it will be difficult for its commissioners to hold Quebec’s provincial police force accountable.

“We need to put every individual representative of the state, and every state institution, on notice that they are not above the law, that they cannot use their authority to intimidate and abuse those they may see as vulnerable, and that Indigenous lives matter,” Coon Come said.

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