Vigils are being held across Saskatchewan to call for a public inquiry into how the justice system treats Native people.

The outcry is over two freezing deaths of Native men left out in the bitter cold by police officers. Stories of police brutality in Saskatchewan are also emerging.

About 400 people attended a vigil in Saskatoon. They want a probe into all aspects of the criminal justice system.

Native leaders say it’s the only way to clear the air.

“We have to have that because no police force can operate with that veil or that cloud over it. Nobody can operate like that. And everybody has to feel secure that something will be done,” said Perry Bellegarde, chief of the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations. As Bellegarde spoke, a similar vigil was taking place 150 kilometres north in Prince Albert.

In a CBC news story, Ira Ahenakew said he’s been beaten up by the police. “There are only certain policemen that are doing wrong, but there are a lot of good ones. A person nowadays doesn’t feel safe getting into a police car by himself,” he said.

Many speakers said they haven’t told their stories before, because they didn’t think police would investigate.