Reaction of Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)/ Cree Nation Government to Radio-canada Report - Enquête Concerning Abuse of First Nations Women

NEMASKA, EEYOU ISTCHEE, QC, Oct. 23, 2015 /CNW Telbec/ - It is with anger, shame and pain that the Cree Nation witnesses the exposure of the systemic abuse that First Nation Women are suffering at the hands of the people mandated with protecting the vulnerable and ensuring the safety of all people. Before addressing the abuses that are committed against First Nations Women, the Cree Nation would like to honor, Bianca Moushoun, Priscilla Papatie and Angela King for their extreme bravery in coming forward to denounce Officers of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ). It is only with the strength and bravery of women like this, are we to have a chance at ensuring that those who would prey on the vulnerable and apparently defenseless members of communities will be brought to justice.

"As a husband, father and grandfather my heart breaks for all women who are violated instead of honored and respected for the incredible gifts that they are to our families and our communities. I will stand with these brave women and anyone else who will work to bring an end to violence against First Nations Women." - Grand Chief Dr. Matthew Coon Come.

The Cree Nation would also like to thank Edith Cloutier of the Native Friendship Centre in Val D'Or for being instrumental in allowing the abuse to come to light through its mandate to provide a welcoming and safe environment for all First Nations. The Centre has a very difficult mandate and deserves all of our support if there is a chance for Native people to be treated fairly. The non-judgmental and stark lens of the Quebec media also deserve recognition for the important role that they have in exposing wrongs that become institutional, and systemic. It is imperative the media do not allow the abuse of First Nations Women in our country to slip into the shadows of our Nation.

The Cree Nation Government and the Cree leadership in general are mobilizing resources to ensure that we stand with these brave women and that any women from our own communities feel safe and know that they will not be shamed but protected if they wish to come forward to file statements about similar treatment or abuse at the hands of another, be it SQ Officers or anyone else who presumes to violate the integrity of any First Nations Woman.

The confidence of the Cree and First Nations of Quebec in the Quebec judicial and public security system has been shaken to the core. It is not an investigation of the SQ in Val D'Or by their fraternity in the Montreal Police force that will address this wound. The Cree Nation Government is of the opinion that an investigation by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) would be the more appropriate response especially in light of the fact that what has come to light in Val D'Or is a National concern. This was not lost on the Prime Minister elect when he promised a National Inquiry into the disappearance and violence against First Nations women in Canada. It is imperative as Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau moves quickly to address this National disgrace.

The Cree Nation Government shall be examining any and all actions that can be taken to protect members of our communities. It should not be difficult to understand that the Cree Nation Government will require concrete measures be taken before we the leadership can be confident that our members will be treated with respect and be safe when visiting or working in Non-Native Communities like Val D'Or. For example, the Cree Nation Government shall be taking immediate action to cancel public events scheduled to be held in Val d'Or. The lack of a strong and real response from the leadership of the town of Val d'Or is a very disturbing example of where it would be appear that municipal, provincial and even federal leaders would often rather wait out a media cycle than address the victimization of First Nation's women in their jurisdictions. If we cannot guarantee the safety of our people from certain communities, as leaders we will do what we can to direct them elsewhere or find safe alternatives.

The Cree Nation Government is committed to ensuring that the sacrifice and bravery demonstrated by Bianca Moushoun, Priscilla Papatie and Angela King will not be in vain.


SOURCE Grand Council of the Crees (Eeyou Istchee)

For further information: Deputy Grand Chief Rodney Mark, Tel. (819) 673-2600; Melissa Saganash, Director of Cree - Quebec Relations, Tel. (514) 249-8598


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