Around one week ago, a horrifying and questionable video of a male Canadian police officer inappropriately questioning an Indigenous sexual assault victim surfaced online. The video has gained a lot of public attention due to the questionable interrogation. Following the public attention, the Indigenous woman has come forward to say she now suffers PTSD from the incident and has lost trust in police.
This article and a video included below contains descriptions of sexual assault, which may trigger some readers. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, call the Assaulted Women's Helpline at 1(866)863-0511 or find them online here.
The video in question shows a Kelowna RCMP officer inappropriately interrogating an Indigenous youth who had said she was the victim of a sexual assault while in foster care in British Columbia. It was originally released by APTN National News.
In the video, the unidentified male RCMP officer is heard asking a series of inappropriate questions including asking the youth if she was at all turned on during the sexual assault.
Following the incident and large media attention, the now adult woman has come forward to explain how it has negatively impacted her life.
The now 24-year-old woman spoke to APTN in an exclusive interview. Her identity has remained secret and they refer to her as J.
J has claimed that since the incident, she has had to live and deal with PTSD. She is now going to extensive therapy sessions that the province is paying thousands of dollars for.
In the interview, J believed she was going to talk to police to serve justice to her abuser; but she was sadly mistaken. “Back then I had no idea my rights were being violated but now as a parent… it’s so hard to watch because the questions are disgusting and I wouldn’t allow my own child to go through that,” said J.
According to the interview, J knew within the first five minutes that the officer did not believe her. “I felt like I had nobody there and that was hard because most kids have their parents. Being in cost care, I had none of that at all and the social worker that came with me as not supportive,” explained J.
When the Internet was exposed to the video, many were quick to point to how there was only a male office present during the questioning. J also thought about this while in the interrogation. J claims that at 17, she was scared of the officer due to his tall and “very scary looking” stature.
While J continues to deal with the aftermath of both the sexual assault and the interrogation, she is expressing her need for a public apology at the hands of the officer and social workers.
She would also like social workers and RCMP officers to sit down with people from First Nations in the Kelowna area to understand how it has impacted the lives of this culture.
Although a scary and life-altering experience, she has seen positives in the form of comments. In the interview, J expressed that she has seen and read many of the positive comments that have been expressed.
She is incredibly thankful for all the people who have supported her and believed her story when no one else did. “It helps me today knowing that people actually believe me. That 17-year-old me craved that so bad and now I have that validation and it means a lot.”
Following the incident, Narcity reached outed to RCMP for a comment. In an email, RCMP responded and stated that “new training for RCMP officers continue to be a priority,” and “a course on interviewing witnesses and victims was recently updated.”
“Cultural competency training, trauma-informed investigations training and an advanced course for sexual assault investigators are under development," they said. "We are developing this training with subject matter experts in psychology, advocacy, and sexual assault investigations.
Canadians and people of power have also been expressing their outrage at the video. The topic was even taken to the House of Commons where the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations Carolyn Bennett and Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer publicly asked what would be done to ensure this never happens again.
The video, which was taken in 2012, was released to the public recently due to a current lawsuit that is underway, allegedly against the Ministry of Child and Family Development as well as the social worker and supervisor who were responsible for the victim's wellbeing while in foster care. According to APTN, no charges were laid against the alleged perpetrator of the assault.