Juliette Lisbeth Jérôme says she still has stains in her hair from the pepper spray attack.
The Lac Simon First Nation woman says a stranger yelled racial slurs at her and her boyfriend before suddenly wielding the spray can last September.
“It burned my eyes, and half my mouth became swollen, right here, my cheek also, I couldn’t feel anything,” Jérôme told the Quebec inquiry into Indigenous relations in Val-d’Or on Thursday.
What makes the incident even more upsetting for Jérôme is what she calls the police’s lack of response.
“The complaint that we made, our statement, they don’t seem to take it into consideration, there’s still no investigation,” she testified.
The Quebec inquiry into Indigenous relations was spurred by accusations that provincial police were abusing Indigenous people in the city of Val-d’Or.
Adding insult to injury, Jérôme said she recognizes the man who assaulted her. She said he works at a local grocery store.
“Last time I saw him at the IGA he said to me ‘Oh, let me go get my pepper spray’. He still threatens me, it doesn’t stop.”
When questioned why she doesn’t go to police to provide this new information, she said she’s afraid.
Jérôme had her own run-in with the provincial police this past Christmas. She was charged and found guilty of simple assault for repeatedly hitting her boyfriend with her purse.
Jérôme marvels at how her own case was treated – compared to the assault she reported.
And she said she’s not the only Algonquin to feel this way.
“The police come down hard on Indigenous folks, and that’s discrimination and that needs to be fixed and needs to be stopped.”
Jérôme hopes the Quebec inquiry will address what she sees as a double standard.
The hearings continue Friday and the final report is due in September 2019.