APTN National News
A video is going around Montréal that is angering some people it the Indigenous community.
Cellphone footage shot by a bystander in Montreal’s subway and posted to social media shows a handcuffed Inuk woman surrounded by three police officers.
The video shows that after receiving a ticket, she is released by police. The incident raises questions about whether the department is following community policing initiatives agreed to with the city’s
“There are social workers in every district to help out,” said Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women’s Centre of Montréal. “I think that if you really want to help them, you find those services for them, you don’t give them a ticket that you know very well there never going to be able to pay off. You give them those services, you build them up. This is doing the opposite.”
Nakuset is particularly angry because in 2015 she signed an agreement on behalf of a Montréal Urban Aboriginal network to improve relations with city police.
Among the things agreed to was that police would take a different approach to dealing with the vulnerable Aboriginal population.
” We know for a fact that the indigenous population gets over ticketed, and what happens is once they get these tickets and they don’t have money, they get more tickets and eventually they go to jail,” said Nakuset.
But the Aboriginal Liason for the Montréal police said the woman wasn’t targeted for a ticket.
Carlo DeAngelis said after police received complaints, the woman, who appeared to be inebriated, was asked to stop loitering.
She became aggressive, and that it she was only then she was handcuffed and given a ticket.
DeAngelis said that in situations like this, social workers are often called, but that they are not always available.
“The intervention workers have a huge work load, so when we look at the needs, yes, we need more intervention workers on the street level to work with us,” says DeAngelis.
But DeAngelis said he wasn’t sure if officers attempted to call intervention workers in this case.
Instead he emphasized that the police approach to working with vulnerable Indigenous people has improved greatly and continues to be a work in progress.
“When we can, our objective is to help the individuals that are vulnerable in this city and to work with the Aboriginal community,” he said.
Nakuset said she isn’t so sure.
She said the metro incident shows that training workshops and cultural sensitivity manuals created by the Montréal Aboriginal community over the last 2 years are going unheeded.
“There are lots of ways that we’re working with the police, and we’re giving them the appropriate information through indigenous experts to help them,” Nakuset said. “Whether they use the information or not is another story.”
For their part, police say they have an upcoming meeting with the Montréal Urban Aboriginal Community Strategy Network where they will discuss the incident further.