Assault rates in the Cree communities are 12 times the Quebec average, says Ken Hilt, the regional Cree police coordinator.

In one Cree community, the rate is a whopping 32 times higher, he said.

Hilt wouldn’t identify the community, saying only, “I’d hate to name them. I don’t think they’d be proud of that.”

Hilt said 90 percent of the assaults were alcohol-related. He also said there is a “direct link” to the housing crisis and other social problems like bootlegging.

“Why does the phone ring at the police station? Because there’s some social problems,” he said.

Hilt studied the crime rates to help Cree officials determine the amount of officers and funding needed in the communities.

Cree cops say they are underfunded compared to their non-Native police colleagues.

Hilt based his calculations on incident rates reported to police on a per-capita basis between 1997 and 1999.

He said the Cree rate is the same as in other First Nations communities in Quebec; the average across the board is 12 times the provincial average.

For some other crimes, First Nations are much better off than the rest of Quebec, he said. There were few if any reports of prostitution or murders in Native communities in the period studied.

On the other hand, the rate of sexual assault was “slightly higher” than the Quebec average, while the rate of break-and-enters was about the same, said Hilt.