Special Investigation Unit asking for witnesses to come forward in alleged sexual assaults in Pikangikum

SIU

Ontario’s police watchdog is asking witnesses to alleged sexual assaults in Pikangikum First Nation to come forward.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) says it was notified by Ontario Provincial Police on March 19 of two complaints that alleged women were sexually assaulted by its officers.

“The Ontario Provincial Police notified the SIU of two complaints in which it was alleged that women were sexually assaulted by members of the Ontario Provincial Police on Pikangikum First Nation,” said a release issued Wednesday.

“Two investigators have been assigned to this case and are continuing to make efforts to determine what transpired.”

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Pikangikum is an Ojibwe community of about 2,000 people located 306 km northeast of Winnipeg.

Pikangikum has expelled all 10 previously stationed OPP officers from its territory in northwestern Ontario.

Pikangikum Chief Dean Owensaid said in March that the police force lost the community’s trust due to alleged misconduct involving officers that “occurred over many years.”

The SIU is urging anyone with information regarding these allegations, direct or indirect, to contact them or complete the appeal for witness form on their website.

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The Pikangikum First Nation police station that was trashed in 2015. Photo: APTN.

Pikangikum has a stormy relationship with police, twice evicting the police department from the community in the past.

The last confrontation took place in June 2015 when an officer stopped a community member on an SUV for drinking and driving. The confrontation led to the officer firing his taser.

What followed was a riot that left the main floor of the Pikangikum First Nation police detachment trashed and three police vehicles destroyed.

With files from the Canadian Press