Troubling revelations on fate of aboriginal women: Abitibiwinni urges Quebec and federal government action, and calls for justice for First Nations people
PIKOGAN, QC, Oct. 23, 2015 – The Council of the Abitibiwinni First Nation, a community that is directly affected by the troubling revelations aired last night on the Radio-Canada program Enquête, has no intention of letting the story pass without taking action. It is encouraging the federal and Quebec governments to take exceptional measures, including setting up joint public inquiries, to put an end to the intolerable situations involving First Nations people, especially women and children.
“We are calling for justice: justice for women who have been abused or mistreated by police officers, justice for children who have been abandoned and ignored by government authorities, and justice for our missing women and girls across Canada. We are demanding full and complete justice from government authorities at both the federal and provincial levels,” said Chief David Kistabish.
Federal Commission of Inquiry
The Abitibiwinni Council has voiced its support for the family of Sindy Ruperthouse, a young woman from Abitibiwinni who has been reported missing for several months. It also joins with countless other groups calling for a public inquiry into the fate of missing or murdered aboriginal women across Canada.
“We’re asking Justin Trudeau, the newly-elected Prime Minister of Canada, to make good on his election promise to hold a public inquiry on this issue. We’re asking that he act now, without further delay,” added Chief Kistabish.
Quebec-First Nations Commission
Chief Kistabish warned that the Quebec government cannot shirk its responsibilities and must react swiftly to both the allegations presented by Enquête and the broader issues that affect First Nations people in the province. The Abitibiwinni demand an independent inquiry following the revelations that some police officers have been mistreating aboriginal women.
In addition to the treatment aboriginal women receive from police officers, many problems affect the First Nations people in Quebec (suicide, violence, substance abuse, foster placement of children, etc.). Chief Kistabish proposes that a major public inquiry be held; its report would set the stage for an extraordinary summit of political leaders from all First Nations and Quebec. “The Quebec government can no longer turn a deaf ear. It cannot hide behind the federal government. Quebec has responsibilities as well, and it’s time to take stock—’Nation to Nations’—of all the issues affecting us and on the state of our relations,” he added.
The Algonquian community of Abitibiwinni, also known as Pikogan, is located approximately three kilometres from Amos, on the west side of the Harricana River. It is home to some 600 people. The Abitibiwinni First Nation Council is headed by a chief, a vice-chef and three councillors elected according to local customs.
For further information: Source: Caroline Thivierge, Communications office, Abitibiwinni First Nation, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel.: 819-732-6591 #2223, Cell: 819-732-5322