The Indigenous woman at the centre of a disturbing video has concerns after the B.C. RCMP announced a “fulsome review” of her case.
“Hopefully, they do it with an unbiased view but I don’t think that is going to happen,” she told APTN News.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan announced the review on June 1, almost two weeks after the video was first broadcast by APTN and sparked widespread public condemnation.
The woman was 17 in 2012 when she reported a sexual assault while in foster care. An officer in the police interview asks whether she was “at all turned on” during the alleged crime.
“What I think needs to happen is that they need to be investigated by an outside source,” she told APTN.
Strachan said the RCMP is restricted by what it can say under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, the Privacy Act, and an ongoing criminal investigation and civil lawsuit.
But she confirmed the force is aware of the public’s reaction.
“We agree that on the surface this case doesn’t appear to align with public expectations or the current standards and practices in place when addressing sex assault investigations and supporting victims,” Strachan said in a news release.
“We also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes.
“I can confirm a fulsome review of the 2012 investigation is underway and we have engaged with various individuals and agencies that have expressed concerns.”
The video obtained by APTN originally surfaced as part of the woman’s civil complaint against the Ministry of Family and Child Development in B.C. and individual social workers.
It drew outrage from Indigenous groups, politicians and sexual assault advocates across the country.
Mounties confirmed the male officer seen in the video is still an employee of the RCMP, but would not elaborate further.
On Monday, the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls called for sweeping reforms to policing in Canada.
The report aims 11 of its 231 “Calls for Justice” at police services across the country.
Among them is a call to educate officers on the history of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, the history of police in the oppression and genocide of Indigenous Peoples, anti-racism and anti-bias training, and culture and language training.
Ideally, the woman in the video would like to see First Nations people – notably Elders – consulted to review her case. Instead of the RCMP “investigating themselves.”
She said the national inquiry showed other Indigenous women have experienced similar treatment by police.
“Somewhere in my heart, and in seeing how the RCMP has acted towards other members of this community, made me realize I need to share this story,” she said.
Still, the experience has been emotionally exhausting, she added.
“I have video validation and video proof towards the RCMP so I think that gives me a lot of power over these other people and it makes me uncomfortable.
“But it needs to be done because I needed to share my story so that other people have more courage to come forward and share their stories.”
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-with files from Kathleen Martens