Disturbing, concerning and damaging — that‘s how the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs describes allegations of historic sexual violence connected to the Kettle hydro project.
"A shocking normality,” said AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas.
As CTV News reported Tuesday, a Clean Environment Commission report detailed allegations of sexual abuse against women in the Fox Lake Cree Nation following the arrival of a male workforce of 4,000 in nearby Gillam, dating back to the 1960s.
AMC Grand Chief Arlen Dumas says his organization wants to work with the province and Manitoba Hydro to put safety measures in place for future developments.
"There needs to be an accountability back to the community, people need to appreciate and understand that communities need to have a say in any and all projects that happen in their territory,” said Dumas.
The province is forming a steering committee with Hydro to work on safety measures, and on Wednesday the Minister of Sustainable Development Rochelle Squires said, "On behalf of our government we apologize for what had occurred decades ago."
Testimonials from the report shed more light on the allegations of abuse. One woman told the commission: “And when we talk about the sexual abuse we went through, I can name a few men that I can put behind jail right now that abused me. There is no statutory limitation on that now.”
The Pallister government has sent the report to RCMP, but community members stated Mounties were part of the problem. One man alleged: "They would pick up Fox Lake women take them to jail, and bring all the hydro guys there to do what they wanted with these young women."
None of the allegations have been tested in court. RCMP said Tuesday it‘s reviewing the report.
Former MKO Grand Chief Sheila North says an independent body should investigate, not RCMP.
"There‘s always been a concern that police either were a part of it or that they didn‘t care or that they you know just dismissed it,” said North.
Fox Lake Cree Nation says the experience is an open wound and the release of the report has triggered many emotions. It wants a meeting with the premier.
The province says Northern Relations Minister Eileen Clarke plans to meet with impacted communities in the next few weeks.
Hydro said Tuesday as it is a criminal matter it is not commenting.