In recent weeks the story of an Indigenous sexual assault survivor, who was inappropriately interrogated by a male police officer in an upsetting 48- second viral video, has garnered national attention. Now she is calling for an external investigation into the handling of her sexual assault report in 2012.
The young Indigenous woman, who was only 17 at the time of the assault, had been left alone with the officer for the duration of the interrogation, which lasted several hours. The video depicting her treatment surfaced in May of this year and showed a male Kelowna RCMP officer asking a series of extremely troubling and inappropriate questions.
In particular, the woman was asked whether she was “at all turned on” during the assault, that took place while she was in Foster Care in British Columbia. Despite the public’s strong reaction to the online video, the RCMP delayed their response until June 1 but acknowledged the concerns raised by the video.
Deputy Commissioner Jenifer Strachan notes that under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and Privacy Act there are restrictions on how much the RCMP can say regarding an ongoing criminal investigation. She said, “we agree that on the surface this case doesn't appear to align with public expectations...we also recognize that a negative experience with police investigators can bring more trauma to victims, and discourage others from reporting these crimes."
The woman in the video has responded to this by saying "I'm worried and concerned it might just be what they call lip service.” She noted that while it is positive that the case is being reviewed, she believed it should be "investigated by an outside source" saying "I don't think they'll do a full investigation on themselves properly."
The story continues to attract public condemnation given the increasing concern regarding Indigenous issues across the country. Earlier this week, the 1200-page report on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls was released that revealed the "persistent and deliberate human and indigenous rights violations and abuses" in what was referred to as a ‘Canadian genocide’.
Speaking in relation to the publicity of her story, the woman said that she had suffered from elements of “self-doubt” that came from feeling her story is not any more deserving of attention or prominence than other victims. That said, she recognizes the importance of her voice in bringing justice to others.
She said, "I have video validation and video proof towards the RCMP so I think that gives me a lot of power over these other people...but it needs to be done because I needed to share my story so that other people have more courage to come forward and share their stories."