November 16, 2016
(Ottawa, ON and Wendake, QC)â€• The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) today called for an immediate explanation from the Crown prosecutor’s office in response to media reports that charges will be not be laid against six Québec provincial police officers in Val-d’Or accused of physical and sexual abuse against Indigenous women. AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde, Chair of the AFN Women’s Council Denise Stonefish, and AFN Regional Chief for Québec-Labrador Ghislain Picard expressed concerns about the decision and the message it sends to First Nations women coming forward.
“This situation requires transparency and a detailed explanation of the Crown’s decision in order to build trust and confidence for First Nations in the justice system. It reinforces our call to support First Nations policing and work towards First Nations restorative justice systems. Only a clear, transparent and public explanation of this investigation and its conclusions will clear the air and allow us to build a better relationship for the future. As we await answers to questions about the decision-making process, my thoughts are with the women who came forward and shared their stories.”
Denise Stonefish, Chair of the AFN Women’s Council and Deputy Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians, stated that no matter what developments ensue from Val-d’Or, the AFN Women’s Council will continue to work for justice and fair treatment of all First Nations women: “Understandably, fear and mistrust of police has long plagued our communities, particularly for our women. The Val-d’Or case will inevitably exacerbate this. We urge prosecution to provide a detailed explanation immediately. Today and every day, we stand with survivors.”
“Our women should not be silenced, intimidated or discouraged by the results to date of the actions which they were brave enough to take on,” added AFN’s Regional Chief for Québec-Labrador, Ghislain Picard. “It is the beginning, and not the end, of a march for justice, and we will prevail on that journey.”
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Updates.
Bilingual Communications Officer