First Nations women call for Quebec inquiry into systemic racism

Click to play video: 'Call for Quebec inquiry into First Nations racism'
Call for Quebec inquiry into First Nations racism
WATCH ABOVE: Indigenous communities across Quebec say they are tired of the racism they encounter daily and are calling for an independent provincial inquiry. Global's Raquel Fletcher reports – Nov 22, 2016

Indigenous women in communities across Quebec say they are sick of the racism they encounter daily and are calling for an independent provincial inquiry into systemic racism against First Nations people in the province.

At a protest in Quebec City, some of the women took their turn explaining what it is like for their communities — will they be served last at a restaurant? Will they be ignored by store vendors?

Some spoke of being referred to as “thieves” and “savages.”

READ MORE: Possible systemic racism against First Nations by Quebec police: report

Pénéelope Guay, the coordinator at the Maison Communautaire Autochtone Missinak said women in Val D’Or are afraid for their safety.

She said those who accused police of sexual assault, “now go out in two’s. They don’t go out alone anymore.”

Story continues below advertisement

The women are calling for a public inquiry into racism in Val d’Or, and other communities across the province, one of the recommendations from the independent observer who followed the investigation of Sûreté du Québec officers accused of sexual assault.

The Status of Women Office, Québec Solidaire (who invited the women to the National Assembly Tuesday morning) and the Parti Québécois (PQ) all agreed.

WATCH BELOW: Sexual assault accusations

First Nations women said they felt betrayed upon hearing that no charges were laid, adding they fear for their personal safety, especially when they’re alone.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.
For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.

Get breaking National news

For news impacting Canada and around the world, sign up for breaking news alerts delivered directly to you when they happen.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

“I don’t want to be picked up by the police and you don’t know what’s going to happen. Trust is not there anymore,” said Donna Larivière with Femmes autochtones du Québec.

Story continues below advertisement

“I’m afraid for my nieces and my sisters when they go out. This needs to stop.”

READ MORE: Eight SQ officers suspended in wake of sexual-assault allegations

Last week, the Quebec government announced a provincial inquiry would not be necessary because the federal government is already looking into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

READ MORE: No charges against SQ officers for alleged sexual abuse

Some argue the national inquiry isn’t large enough to give a clear picture of all the realities specific to Quebec.

Protesters said with all the work the national inquiry has to do in only two years, it will be impossible to properly inform the Quebec government on how to make First Nations lives safer.

READ MORE: Allegations police abused First Nations women in Val d’Or part of a national problem, observers say

“I think it’s just the tip of the iceberg and they don’t want to see what’s really happening,” said Larivière.

Indigenous women argue Philippe Couillard‘s government is resisting a provincial inquiry.

Nevertheless, Tuesday afternoon, the premier said he would sit with First Nations leaders with an open mind and wasn’t ruling out a public inquiry.

Story continues below advertisement

Soon after, Native Affairs Minister Geoffrey Kelley said “the premier was quite clear: we can’t leave things here.”

Then, the PQ called out Kelley for contradicting the premier in question period.

The minister reiterated the same thing the government said last week – that a national inquiry would cover Val D’Or.

“Right before question period, the [premier] said he was open to the idea to have a public inquiry. Obviously he changed his mind,” said Alexandre Cloutier, PQ native affairs critic, who said he was surprised by Kelley’s comments and was expecting the government to announce a public inquiry.

Kelley’s press secretary clarified the minister’s position after question period.

“Mr. Kelley wants to work with indigenous leaders to immediately start improving the quality of life. That’s the priority,” said Chantal Gauvin.

Guay said indigenous leaders like her won’t settle for anything other than the full public inquiry they are calling for.

Sponsored content