First Nations women relieved by public commission announcement in Quebec

Click to play video: 'First nations react to planned inquiry' First nations react to planned inquiry
WATCH ABOVE: The Quebec government has finally agreed to launch a provincial inquiry into allegations of systemic racism against indigenous women. Raquel Fletcher speaks to two aboriginal women about what this means to them – Dec 22, 2016

After weeks of public pressure, the Quebec government announced Wednesday they were launching a provincial inquiry into allegations of systemic racism against indigenous women.

“It’s a relief for us,” said Tanya Sirois, the Wendake Native Friendship Centre executive director.

READ MORE: Quebec announces public inquiry into treatment of First Nations people

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.

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

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.

READ MORE: Assembly of First Nations wants Constitution to recognize them as order of government

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.

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