Frontline workers say Montreal’s more vulnerable Indigenous women are being preyed upon in the streets sparking a First Nations-led street patrol to form a response.
They’re called the Wolf Pack and let APTN News tag along for a night.
That’s where APTN met Samual Lemay. After a day’s work, most are inclined to stay home on a Tuesday evening.
“We’re the Wolf Pack street patrol and we’re getting ready for another night out,” he says.
Inspired by Bear Clan patrols that have sprung up in the West, the Wolf Pack hits Montreal’s downtown core three nights a week.
“What we have going on with Tina Fontaine, missing and murdered women, enough is enough. It’s time for our group and our men and our people to stand up,” said organizer Al Harrington.
On this night the Wolf Pack start their patrol in a part of the city frequented by homeless people.
They barely walk five metres before coming across a distraught Inuk woman.
They console her and give her some food and hygiene products.
Harrington is Ojibwe from Shoal Lake First Nation and worked years ago as an outreach worker for the Montreal Native Friendship Centre.
He knows these streets he now patrols.
But not everyone is welcoming.
At one point a young man warns APTN to turn the camera off.
“Those guys are s#$% bags,” says Harrington. “These corners here, especially in the park there, you get a lot of drug deals, a lot of prostitution, a lot of pimps that hang out here and basically they prey on our women, our people that are vulnerable.”
Harrington isn’t the only one to sound the alarm on what Indigenous women face on Montreal streets.
David Chapman of the nearby Open Door day shelter says he’s witnessed harrowing assaults.
“A woman was seen lying right here, intoxicated, a young Inuk woman, and standing over her was an older man he was pulling down his pants and in the process of pulling down her pants,” says Chapman pointing to the where it happened.
“She was intoxicated and resisting.”
Chapman says he rushed outside.
“Then he picked up the woman, off the ground, and began to drag her. He dragged her for a good 30-40 yards all the way to the back corner of the building,” he says.
Chapman says he caught up to them and chased the man off.
Chapman testified last week at the Quebec inquiry into Indigenous relations that 10 Indigenous women told him they were sexually assaulted in 2017.
He says police were either unable or unwilling to do anything about it.
“Only three have been willing to go forward with that, and of those three cases, none of them has moved beyond the initial stages,” says Chapman.
Montreal police said they are waiting until the inquiry is over before responding to Open Door’s accusations.
Meanwhile, the Wolf Pack patrol the streets trying to fill a void.