In the month since Quebec’s public security minister Martin Coiteux invited Aboriginal women across the Canadian province to call a new toll-free line, 44 women have reported assaults by police. “We knew there was an issue, but we never knew how big it was,” said Patricia Bouchard, a community worker at the Sexual Assault Prevention Centre in Val d’Or.
The new hotline is an alternative to calling the Montreal police force, and connects complainants with a paralegal counseling service for indigenous citizens. “We were not expecting that kind of result,” said Jean Jolicoeur, the vice-president of the paralegal service, adding that the alternative reporting option made good sense. “You have to realize it was extremely difficult for them to call police, to make a claim against another police.”
He said around 40 percent of the women are prepared to press charges at this point.
The Montreal police force, began investigating after allegations against eight Sûreté du Québec officers surfaced last fall in a Radio-Canada Enquête report. One of the alleged victims who was interviewed is Bianca Moushoun. “They would ask me, do you want beer, and they would have some in their trunk,” alleged Bianca Moushoun. “Then we’d take a path into the woods and that’s where they would ask me to perform fellatio,” she said, adding that she received similar requests from at least seven officers. The men, she said, were usually on duty and in uniform and would ask her to keep quiet.
Watch Bianca Moushon give an account of alleged police abuse (French):
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