Public Security Minister Robert Perrault has launched a police investigation into the deaths of two Innu who might have been killed by game wardens in 1977.
“It will be up to the police to decide whether these facts, these allegations, shed new light,” he told reporters.
“We want to know what happened in 1977,” said Elie-Jacques Jourdain, Chief of the Maliotenam First Nation which the two men belonged to.
Chief Jourdain said a police investigation is not enough because it will just be police investigating other police. A public inquiry is also needed, he said.
On June 9, 1977, Achille Voilant, 20, and Moise Regis, 26, went fishing on the Moisie River near Sept-lles. Their empty canoe was found the next day and their bodies later washed ashore.
A coroner ruled they had drowned accidentally. But the bodies were bruised when they were found as if they had been beaten, said members of the Innu community. They were also not bloated as the bodies of drowning victims usually are.
A documentary on Radio-Canada interviewed a former game warden who was on duty the day the two men disappeared. He said one of his colleagues told him “it was arrest that went awry.”
The documentary also reported that evidence disappeared or was destroyed. For example, the game wardens’ boat was repainted less than 36 hours after the two Innus disappeared.
Also, the canoe of the two men, which had evidence that it was rammed, was bought by two Surete du Quebec officers who investigated the deaths and never shown to the coroner. One of them is now head of the SQ officers’ union.