Police watchdog called in to probe alleged assaults linked to hydro projects

Manitoba RCMP have called in the OPP to investigate the Crown utility’s work sites in the 1960s and 1970s

Manitoba RCMP have called in outside investigators to probe historical alleged assaults linked to hydro projects in the province’s north, but First Nations leaders say the government should still commit to an inquiry.

A report released last month by the province’s Clean Environment Commission — an arm’s-length review agency — outlined discrimination and sexual abuse at the Crown utility’s work sites in the 1960s and 1970s. The report said the arrival of a largely male construction workforce led to the sexual abuse of Indigenous women and some alleged their complaints to RCMP were ignored.

“Some spoke of instances of institutions intended to protect people, particularly the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, brutalizing men, permitting the exploitation of women, and failing to take local complaints seriously, although there were also instances of these complaints being addressed,” the report said.

RELATED: ‘Nobody’s child’: A B.C. woman’s journey to healing from the ’60s Scoop

The Independent Investigation Unit of Manitoba, the province’s police watchdog, said Friday it will investigate any allegations involving RCMP officers.

Any historical criminal investigations involving hydro employees or contractors will be handled by the Ontario Provincial Police. Manitoba RCMP said the OPP’s involvement is necessary because there were allegations where both the Crown’s employees and RCMP officers may have been present.

“Determining the scope of the investigation will be the responsibility of the respective investigative agencies,” Manitoba RCMP said in a release Friday.

Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires has called the allegations disturbing and referred the report to the RCMP.

Government officials would not comment on the independent investigations and did not respond to a question about whether a provincial inquiry would be considered.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who represents northern First Nations, said he welcomes the investigations but said Premier Brian Pallister must order an inquiry into racism, discrimination and violence linked to hydro development.

“Any information arising from an inquiry that may be used in the investigation or prosecution of a potential criminal offence would be forwarded to the respective investigative agency,” Settee said in a release on Friday.

RELATED: RCMP say three boys killed in Manitoba by alleged drunk driver

Former grand chief Sheila North said it’s important RCMP are not in charge of the investigations because many Indigenous people don’t believe it will be taken seriously. The process should be overseen by Indigenous people to ensure it is unbiased and independent, she added.

“We still have a long way to go before anyone, I think, will feel any sense of relief because there is that level of mistrust that nothing will be done in the end,” she said.

“That’s a sneaking suspicion, I think, because there is a lot of cynicism around it.”

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

LETTER: Expanding rat population in Creston

To the Editor: On July 10, my wife found a dead rat… Continue reading

Kootenay Lake East Shore events celebrating history, arts and culture

Starbelly Jam, East Shore Community Culture Day and Museum Days celebrating Kotenay Lake life…

UPDATED: RCMP confirm one death in accident

Two motorcycles ran into the back of a vehicle towing a boat trailer on highway near Cranbrook

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Three students receive $3,300 to pursue educational dreams

Makayli Wilkinson from Crawford Bay received the Neil Muth Memorial Scholarship.

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Two toddler siblings found drowned on First Nation in Alberta

The siblings were found drowned on their family’s property, according to RCMP

Chiefs honour Indigenous leader wrongfully hanged in B.C. 154 years ago today

Chief Joe Alphonse says they want his remains returned to his homeland in B.C.’s Cariboo region

Rare white ravens spotted again on Vancouver Island

Nature photographer Mike Yip said mysterious birds back in Coombs area

Motor vehicle incident in Sparwood results in death of dump truck driver

Authorities did not specify what caused the vehicle to go off the road.

B.C. government seeks advice on reviving Interior forest industry

Public website opens as meetings start with community leaders

Psychics, drones being used to search for missing Chilliwack woman with dementia

Drones, psychics, dogs and more have been employed to help find Grace Baranyk, 86

Most Read