“It’s a relief for us,” said Tanya Sirois, the Wendake Native Friendship Centre executive director.
For aboriginal women across the province, Sirois said it was a great disappointment when prosecutors announced none of the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers accused of sexual assault in Val-d’Or would be charged.
“It’s much larger than we thought it would be,” Sirois said, adding the provincial public commission is necessary for the community to begin healing.
Quebec’s commission will look into a wide range of public services like health, corrections and youth protection, as well as issues faced by First Nations women.
No indigenous women were present at Wednesday’s announcement.
“We’ve come a very, very long way from last year to this year,” said Edith Cloutier, the Val-d’Or Native Friendship Centre executive director.
“One of them was saying, ‘now I feel like I’m just as equal as any other citizen in Quebec, being treated like -‘ and she did say, ‘like a human being.'”
Cloutier said 7,000 people signed a petition for a public inquiry and not all of them were part of First Nations communities.
She added the women in Val-d’Or have been receiving hundreds of messages and Christmas cards from Quebecers who want to show their solidarity.
Soon, they will also have what they’ve wanted all along – a public commission, which Cloutier explained, is a form of justice for them.