APTN National News
A letter sent to Quebec’s minister of Public Safety Wednesday, and obtained by APTN National News is asking the province to honour an agreement allowing two First Nations police officers to be included in the investigation of abuse in Val d’Or, Que., that is currently underway.
At the moment, investigators with the Montreal police (SPVM) are looking into allegations of physical and sexual abuse of Indigenous women by eight members of the Surete du Quebec (SQ) in Val d’Or, about 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.
According to the letter, chiefs of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) proposed that First Nations police officers join the investigation at a meeting with the acting Minister of Public Safety Pierre Moreau and Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley Nov. 23.
“Our Chiefs are convinced that the professionalism and familiarity with the setting of our First Nation officers can greatly benefit, on the one hand, the conduct of the inquiry, and on the other hand, the confidence of our populations in the impartiality of this inquiry,” states the letter dated Dec. 9 and signed by AFNQL Chief Ghislain Picard.
Chiefs of the AFNQL are also asking for an independent inquiry into the allegations against the SQ.
APTN has requested an interview and statement from both ministers, but have not heard back at the time of the publication.
But according to the letter, both seemed open to the idea of allowing two First Nations investigators to join the investigation.
“At the time of the November 23rd meeting, you accepted the request of the participation of our officers in the SPVM inquiry, for which we are very thankful,” according to the letter.
The two officers are Mylène Trudeau, Abenaki police officer, and Derek St-Cyr, a James Bay Cree police officers. Neither could be reached for comment.
According to the letter, both are experienced police investigators working in First Nations communities.
“At the very least, they can have two of our Indigenous officers working with the Montreal police, who we do not trust to properly investigate the SQ,” said Kanesatake Mohawk Territory Grand Chief Serge Simon who took part in the meeting where the decision was made to draft the letter.
Eight members of Val d’Or’s SQ are facing 14 allegations of physical, and in some cases, sexual abuse against 12 Indigenous women in the Val d’Or region.
Those officers are currently on leave and not patrolling the community.
Investigations are currently being conducted by Montreal police under the observation of a human rights lawyer.