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

Port Alberni receives Smart Communities grant for new online platform

Online database will link local volunteers with non-profit and charity groups

Vancouver Island brewery re-brands again after cryptic new logo failed

Victoria-based brewers said goodbye to confusing hexagon logo

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

Port Alberni council meetings to take place in the afternoon

Mayor says the change is on a “trial” basis

Cyclist killed in Port Alberni

Collision occurred on 10th Avenue at Dunbar Street

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

Marvel co-creator was well-known for making cameo appearances in superhero movies

Vancouver Island remembers

Important stories shared as Islanders salute those who made the greatest sacrifice

B.C. health care payroll tax approved, takes effect Jan. 1

Employers calculating cost, including property taxes increases

Nunavut urges new plan to deal with too many polar bears

Territory recommends a proposal that contradicts much of conventional scientific thinking

Shelter struggles: Landlord takes over rental unit whenever visiting B.C. town

Renter’s story highlights how hard it is to find accommodation in Revelstoke

Lack of public response threatens B.C. referendum credibility

Of the few who have voted, poll finds most rejected proportional representation

Tentative deal reached in NHL concussion lawsuit

More than 100 former players accused the league of failing to better prevent head trauma

Grim search for more fire victims; 31 dead across California

More than 8,000 firefighters battled wildfires that scorched at least 1,040 square kilometres

Politicians need to do better on social media, Trudeau says

Prime minister suggests at conference in Paris some are trying to use technology to polarize voters

Most Read