Allegations of sexual abuse, racism surface in report on impact of Manitoba Hydro projects
Published Tuesday, August 21, 2018 5:12PM CST
Last Updated Friday, September 14, 2018 12:20PM CST
The Pallister government has forwarded a report on the impact of hydro projects in northern Manitoba to the RCMP.
A Clean Environment Commission report says residents of the Fox Lake Cree Nation came forward with allegations of sexual abuse of Indigenous women between the 1960s and 1990s.
The report says problems began with the arrival of 4,000 new workers to the Gillam area.
“The arrival of a largely male construction workforce led to the sexual abuse of Indigenous women: people spoke of construction workers getting them inebriated and then taking advantage of them. People spoke of witnessing rape and being unable to interfere.”
Sustainable Development Minister Rochelle Squires says she takes the allegations seriously and says the province is sending the report to the RCMP.
“The allegations of abuse contained within the report are, quite frankly, extremely disheartening and disturbing.” said Squires.
The exact timelines for all of the allegations is unclear as the commission examined current and historic impacts.
The report also contains allegations critical of the RCMP.
“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.”
Indigenous residents also came forward with complaints of racism.
“People felt marginalized and discriminated against: they recalled being termed “dirty Indians” and “wagon burners” at school. Indigenous children felt excluded from the new amenities such as the recreation centre and subjected to harsh discipline at school.”
Manitoba Hydro says it too takes the allegations seriously but can’t comment further as this is now a criminal matter.
The RCMP says it is aware of the report and it is currently being reviewed.
None of the allegations have been tested in court.
The province says it has formed a steering committee with hydro to prevent future impacts.
“We'll be ensuring that hydro-electric projects proceed with minimal impact to Indigenous peoples in the north as well as the environment.” said Squires.