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

Air helicopter called to scene after report of shots fired in Abbotsford

Incident Monday afternoon in the area of Ross and Simpson roads

Surrey Mounties investigate drive-by shooting in Fleetwood

It happened Monday afternoon in the 8000-block of 153A Street. Police say no victim has been located.

18-year-old to hospital after shots fired in White Rock

Police investigating early-morning incident

White Rock RCMP unaffected by Surrey’s choice of police force, city says

Mayor Darryl Walker to meet with RCMP Staff Sgt. Daryl Creighton

VIDEO: Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee dies

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

VIDEO: Newcomer kids see first Canadian snowfall

Children arrived in Canada with their mother and two siblings last week from Eritrea

Feds dropped ball with WWI anniversary tributes: historians

Wrote one historian: ‘Other than the Vimy Ridge celebration … I think they have done a very bad job’

Sides ‘far apart’ in Canada Post talks despite mediation, says union

The lack of a breakthrough means rotating strikes will resume Tuesday

Feds’ appeal of solitary confinement decision in B.C. to be heard

Judge ruled in January that indefinite such confinement is unconstitutional, causes permanent harm

Touching note left on Lower Mainland veteran’s windshield

A veteran is hoping the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words.

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

Most Read