A pair of Indigenous organizations have shared their thoughts on the criminal investigation that remains open in relation to historical sexual abuse allegations against some members of the Prince George RCMP.
In June of 2004, Judge David Ramsay was sentenced to seven years in prison for sexually assaulting Indigenous girls.
Gwen Cardinal, who is the Director of Health at the Prince George Native Friendship Centre remembers the case quite well and told Vista Radio there were many voices that were drowned out in the original investigation.
“When we are looking at Prince George twenty years ago, what surfaced in the trial of Judge Ramsay was that there was truth and testimony that came from eyewitnesses in the community that were never followed up on.”
“This is Prince George. We have a convicted judge who sat at the highest judicial place in our community and was convicted. There was lots of testimony that came from RCMP and community members that wasn’t followed up.”
Cardinal who has dealt with Indigenous girls and at-risk youth in the past stated the landscape of the city back in 2004 looked quite a bit different and not necessarily in a good way.
“Especially when we saw highly visible sexual exploitation of children going on in our community – this was highly visible in our streets. A lot of them were Indigenous girls, a lot of them had come from PG but also surrounding communities.”
“The violence against women was very covert and still is today. I think one of the things that I recall is just the non-response that any of this kind of testimony would get ignored and now we are sitting here and some of us are shocked. But, some of us are not shocked.”
In addition, Cardinal believes the independent and out-of-jurisdiction investigation launched by Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth will need to be led in a way where there is Indigenous inclusion.
“In order for justice to occur on this matter, the truth-telling and actions of those who were involved in this need to be held accountable and responsible for this and any type of reconciliation to come not only for the individuals but for the community of Prince George.”
“Some of the things haven’t changed. The ongoing racism and unaddressed issues that we see that life in the opioid crisis and our homelessness state – just the lack of empathy that comes from some of our colonial institutes have caused inequities for Indigenous people’s rights in Prince George.”
In a release sent by the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, nine Mounties and one lawyer who are connected to the file have yet to be charged.
The President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada is among many who believe an investigation of this type is long overdue.
In an interview with Vista Radio, Carol McBride noted the investigation is another black eye when it comes to the RCMP’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.
“I don’t know how these people can sleep at night, knowing that their officers have abused young girls and the trauma that they are setting on these can disturb their lives forever.”
McBride was equally as appreciative of the relentless work by retired RCMP Staff Seargent Garry Kerry, who first brought forward these allegations in 2011.
“If you make noise about injustices eventually it is going to be looked at. I’ve got to hand it to officer Kerr – thank god he is brave enough to come forward as that is not an easy thing to do.”
Kerr was contacted by retired Constable Lisa Mackenzie who discovered disturbing videotapes in the basement of her home – a space she shared with her ex, who was also an RCMP officer.
The tapes reportedly showed police officers in Prince George harassing Indigenous girls.
After several meetings with RCMP superiors and what he thought were unsatisfactory answers, Kerr filed a complaint to the Public Complaints Commission in late 2015, where he later received the report in March of 2021.
Last April, an all-party committee recommended the government move to replace the RCMP with a provincial police force.
The government’s latest contract with the RCMP expires in 2032.