Hundreds of protesters braved the rain and cold on Saturday night to march through the streets of Val-d'Or, a mining city in northwestern Quebec rocked by allegations that some provincial police officers have been abusing aboriginal women.
The protesters carried placards bearing such slogans as "Speak the truth even if your voice shakes" and "All women are sacred."
"This gives us an opportunity as mothers, as fathers, as grandmothers, as sisters and aunts to begin the dialogue with our own children about these things that are happening to our women across the country," one of the rally's organizers, Rhonda Oblin Cooper, said in a video of the rally posted on Facebook.
The march followed a Thursday report from Radio-Canada's Enquête, an investigative documentary program, which included interviews with young women who said several officers had driven them outside the city and left them to walk home in the cold and dark to sober up. Some said they were told to perform sexual acts.
In response to the report, Quebec's Liberal government forced the provincial police, the Sûreté du Québec, to hand over an investigation of the allegations to the Montreal police force.
Several elected officials were present for Saturday's march, including Val-d'Or's mayor, Pierre Corbeil.
Before the march, the Grand Council of the Crees – which represents the 18,000 Crees in that region of northern Quebec – issued a statement alluding to a possible boycott, saying that it would be "examining any and all actions" it might take to protect its members.
The council called on officials in Val-d'Or to take "concrete measures" to ensure its members "will be treated with respect and be safe when visiting or working in non-native communities like Val D'Or."