The Native Women’s Shelter of Montreal (NWSM) has filed a complaint against the Montreal police over how the force handled an incident of a Cree woman who was in crisis.
The incident in question took place on Sunday in a part of the downtown core where many Indigenous people assemble.
David Chapman, an intervention worker with an Indigenous day centre called the Resilience Centre, was notified that one of his clients was having issues.
“I could see she was not well, she was holding two broken beer bottles, she was talking about ending her life,” he says.
Chapman says he spent hours talking with a Cree woman who was in crisis.
Eventually she allowed him to call an ambulance – but he wasn’t expecting what happened next.
“Police cars started arriving, one right after another, and it was at this point that the woman picked back up the broken beer bottles,” says Chapman. “She had actually put them down, and she was in a position of wanting help.
“But then all the cars started coming? 1,2,3,4,5,6, 7, you know they just kept coming.”
Bystanders tell APTN News they counted 17 police officers – including the K-9 unit.
“The dogs? I don’t know what they were thinking there,” says Nakuset, the executive director of the NWSM. “I’d love to find out why they felt they needed dogs.
“A woman is in Crisis, a woman is at the edge and you send 17 police, it’s overkill!”
Nakuset filed a complaint on May 5 over how police handled the incident.
APTN requested an interview with Montreal police but was denied.
“I’ve heard that before, we’re still waiting for them to you know, look into Maina’s incident,” says Nakuset.
Maina is Maina Aculiak who, in 2018, went missing for nearly a week after she was released from jail in the middle of the night in an industrial part of the city with no escort. She speaks Inuktitut and very little English.
Chapman says police presence is needed for some crisis interventions, and in this case, no one was harmed.
An ambulance did arrive and one officer tried to negotiate with the woman.
But he says what people witnessed on Sunday wasn’t necessary.
“We’d like to see a commitment from police about what the actual change of protocol will be and then some proof that those changes are actually being made,” he says.
The Canada Suicide Prevention Service enables callers anywhere in Canada to access crisis support using the technology of their choice (phone, text or chat), in French or English: Phone: toll-free 1-833-456-4566 Text: 45645 Chat: crisisservicescanada.ca