(Editor’s Note: APTN National News incorrectly named former Akwesasne chief Mike Mitchell as being charged with sexual assault. APTN apologizes for the error which has since been corrected.)
APTN National News
At first, Innu mother, grandmother and residential school survivor Lise Jourdain hesitated before sharing her story with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Women and Girls.
“I didn’t want to go to the commission because I heard so many negative things about it,” Jourdain told APTN National News. “I didn’t really understand what the national inquiry was all about.”
The inquiry is on a fact finding mission ahead of the public hearings scheduled to tour of Innu communities across eastern Québec in late November.
Jourdain ended up meeting with lawyers travelling with the inquiry.
She then decided to speak about her experiences.
The meeting was not open to the public.
Jourdain said she had a lot to say about her past and is particularly worried about the violence in her community.
“I spoke about my life, the sexual assault by a neighbor, the rape by an SQ policeman,” she said. “But I spoke a lot about what it’s like living here in the community presently.”
Uashat is an Innu community along Quebec’s northern shore – a community in crisis.
There have been a number of suicides in the past few years and Jourdain said violence is always present.
In 2016, Uashat’s chief, Mike McKenzie was charged with sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 14.
These charges have not been proven in court. McKenzie ‘s trial is in September.
But Jourdain launched a petition to try and get McKenzie to resign after the charges were announced.
She said she sees the national inquiry as a last remedy for justice and help for the victims.
“I hope that a small door will open up and maybe help us because it’s about peoples lives,” she said. “There have been a lot of suicides in our community … I’m waiting for the commission to help us and realize what is going on here.”
The community liaison for the inquiry said help and follow up will be available for anyone who testified to talk about their experience.
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