Michel Tooktoo says he was detained 19 months in jail and had 14 court appearances before he was eventually released in 2016 when the charges were dropped.
It was a painful experience Tooktoo testified Tuesday at the Quebec inquiry examining Indigenous people’s relationship with the province.
He came to Montreal from Kuujjuarapik, Nunavik to testify and said it was hard bringing up those memories.
“I was very emotional. It brought me back a lot of memories, memories that I try to forget for two years now,” said Tooktoo “But at the same time I feel released as I finally had a chance to tell people what I have been through and I am sure there is a lot of people who feel the same way.”
Vivien Carli of First Peoples Justice Centre of Montreal said the organization was developed to help people like Tooktoo.
“We offer services from when the accusation comes, even prevention to reintegration. No one offers this so he was lost in this system,” said Carli. “That is why we have a very ambitious mandate to help people throughout the whole continuum because organizations are segregated, ministries are segregated and people are falling between the cracks like Mr. Tooktoo.”
But they do so with few resources, as she also testified the organization struggles with a lack of everything from funding to treatment centres.
Carlie feels Quebec is steps behind other provinces.
“I think it has a lot to do with a lack of desire from the government to provide any support,” she said.