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

Forestry workers set to begin job action in Kootenays

Operations in Castlegar, Cranbrook, Galloway, Elko, Radium, Golden may see job action this week.

Second-story pot shop snuffed out

Invermere marijuana shop must revisit site proposal

Sultans of String swing into town

Show at Pynelogs November 29th

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

Nordic club glides into new ski season

Special presentation by Olympian Ingrid Liepa

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

BC Minister of Agriculture loses stepson to accidental overdose

Lana Popham announces death of her 23-year-old stepson, Dan Sealey

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Most Read