Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (TFN) hereditary chiefs and elected council released a statement on June 20 demanding that the police officer who killed Chantel Moore be charged with murder under Canada’s Criminal Code.
The statement also calls for an independent, Tla-o-qui-aht-approved inquiry into Moore’s death, as well as sweeping changes in the way Canada addresses issues of systemic racism and mental health within its police forces.
Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht member, was fatally shot at her residence in Edmundston, New Brunswick in the early morning hours of June 4 by a member of the Edmundston Police Force during the course of a “wellness check.”
“This killing was completely senseless,” the statement reads. “No one needs to give up their life on a wellness check – NO ONE. We demand answers on why the officer used such brutal force that was both uncalled for and unnecessary.”
The release references a statement made by RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki during the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Inquiry two years ago, where she committed to do better by First Nations: “I’m sorry that for too many of you, the RCMP was not the police service that it needed to be during this terrible time in your life. It is very clear to me that the RCMP could have done better and I promise to you we will do better.”
“We are still waiting to for ‘better’ and Chantel certainly deserved ‘better,’ reads the Tla-o-qui-aht statement.
According to members of Moore’s family, the officer who killed Moore had been dispatched to perform a wellness check because she was afraid of someone who was harassing her. The wellness check concluded with the officer’s use of deadly force. According to a police statement, the officer acted in self-defense after Moore threatened him with a knife.
The TFN hereditary chiefs and elected council also want to see body cameras become mandatory for all police officers working with the public to ensure all police are held accountable for their actions and protected from false testimony or misunderstandings of others.
Mychèle Poitras, a communications representative from the City of Edmundston confirmed via email to the Westerly News that the death of Moore is currently being investigated by the Bureau des enquêtes du Québec, an independent body called on by the RCMP. The officer who shot Moore is on paid leave.
“We can’t make any comments until this [investigation] is completed,” wrote Poitras.
Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard, met and spoke with Moore’s family at a healing walk held earlier this month while they were in Edmundston.
Simard said too many tragedies involving people of diverse backgrounds, particularly First Nations people, have occurred over the years to leave things as they are, without reacting and without helping to make the necessary corrections to resolve and eradicate them.
“I would also convey our sincere and firm dedication that, with you, we make sure that all light is shed on this tragedy,” Simard said. “We owe it to Chantel, we owe it to you, we owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to all the victims of similar tragedies that have marked the history of this country.
Robin Cargill, who Moore often called grandmother, spoke at the Tofino vigil for Moore on June 18.
“She was truly golden. She was one of the sweetest people you could ever know, despite the light and the darkness. Even if she felt terrible she always tried so hard to look for light. She was always looking for a smile back. I just really hope that her death isn’t in vain. I hope that she being an angel now is going to manifest huge change,” said Cargill.
Tla-o-qui-aht elder Levi Martin also spoke at the vigil.
“In our culture, when a member of our community is not living the way they should be, we go and we talk to them and we pray for them. I would like to say a prayer for the RCMP so that things will begin to change.”
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