• Val d'Or - The FNQLHSSC testified before the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: Listening, reconciliation and progress
Oct 10, 2017

On September 21, in a long presentation before the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: Listening, reconciliation and progress, Executive Director Marjolaine Siouï, and Social Services Manager Richard Gray, described the problems faced by First Nations in the delivery of services offered to them. 

The document submitted to the Commission underscored the historical, legal and social factors that led to this discrimination, and illustrated the impacts on certain social determinants of health among First Nations. In particular, it addressed specific aspects of the organization of health and social services serving First Nations communities in Quebec and presented solutions and recommendations.

The Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: Listening, reconciliation and progress

On December 21 last year, the Government of Quebec set up the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Quebec: Listening, reconciliation and progress, to investigate, address facts and conduct analyses in order to make recommendations concerning concrete, effective and lasting remedial actions to be implemented by the Government of Quebec and Indigenous officials to prevent or eliminate, regardless of their origin or cause, all forms of violence, discriminatory practices and differential treatment in the delivery of the following public services to Indigenous people in Quebec: police, correctional, legal, health services, social services, as well as youth protection services.

The creation of this Commission took place in the context of a crisis characterized by several events that occurred within a few months. These events further revealed the extent of racism and systemic discrimination against First Nations and Inuit people by some public services in Quebec and Canada.

Repeated requests from representatives of Indigenous organizations in Canada resulted in the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which began its work on September 1, 2016. This Inquiry, initiated by the federal government, must address the systemic causes of all forms of violence against Indigenous women and girls across Canada. 

In Quebec, in October 2015, the media revealed abuses and discriminatory practices against Indigenous women by police services in the Val-d’Or region. As a result of these revelations, investigations were conducted by the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal into allegations of criminal acts committed by Sûreté du Québec police officers against Indigenous women in Val-d’Or and elsewhere. Exceptionally, these investigations were carried out under the supervision of an independent civilian observer who stated in her report submitted in November 2016 that “The events in Val-d’Or and elsewhere bring to the forefront the issue of discriminatory police practices and more specifically, the existence of systemic racism against Indigenous people in police forces (unofficial translation).”

At the same time, university researchers carried out a study in the Val-d’Or region on the judicialization of homelessness. Their report, published on December 9, 2016, demonstrated the systemic nature of racial profiling of Indigenous homeless people in police interventions, as well as the many social, economic and structural factors behind this phenomenon. Their analysis and conclusions therefore reinforced those of the independent civilian observer. For First Nations, it is an illustration of only one of the many facets of the systemic discrimination that they have been facing in their relations with public institutions in Quebec and in Canada for decades.