Aboriginal women accuse Quebec police of physical and sexual abuse

Kristen Wawatie (Facebook)

First Nations women in Quebec are coming forward with allegations of abuse against provincial police officers, the CBC reports. In November, the Canadian radio program Enquête aired a story about aboriginal women in the city of Val-d’Or, who say they were sexually assaulted by police officers over the course of two decades. Since the story broke, women from different regions of the province have spoken out with similar stories of abuse. Kristen Wawatie, for example, told the CBC that she was sexually assaulted by an officer in Val-d’Or in August 2012. When she threatened to report him, he allegedly said: “Who are they going to believe, the police or a drunkard?”

Other women have said that they were picked up by police and abandoned in remote areas. Carolyn Henry alleges that in 2007, she and a friend were visiting the small town of Maniwaki when officers asked if they needed a ride back to their campground. But instead of taking them home, Henry says, police drove for 45 minutes and left the women at an abandoned gas station. “You can’t help but think the worst.” Henry said. “I mean, we were in a vulnerable situation, two young indigenous females in a town that we’re not from and we don’t know anything about.”

As a result of the Enquête broadcast, Montreal police are conducting investigations into eight officers in Val-d’Or. “There needs to be a serious investigation into all these allegations, to find the truth,” former police officer Jean O’Bomsawin told the BBC. “Those who protected other officers must face consequences as well.”

The Women in the World Summit in New York, April 6-8, will include a panel on the estimated 4,000 Canadian indigenous women who have been murdered or gone missing since 1980.

Read the full story at the CBC.


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