“It's important to remind everybody that it has been a whole year since Chantel was shot and killed by a police officer in Edmundston, New Brunswick, and she has had no justice,” said Judith Sayers, president of the tribal council. The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council is a non-profit that provides supports to 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations, including the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, of which Moore was a member.
The police were doing a “wellness check” when they say Moore, 26, approached an officer with a knife. The officer, reportedly named in documents as Jeremy Son, shot her.
Green Party Leader Annamie Paul pointed to the bodies of 215 Indigenous children recently discovered at the site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School, more shootings of Indigenous people over the past year, and this week’s release of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls federal action plan as evidence that the time is right for change.
“All of these things coming together is creating a moment of particular urgency and attention toward the need to radically reform the criminal justice system with respect to its impact on Indigenous people,” she said.
The Green Party is calling for a national database tracking police interactions with the public, and police use of force, with data disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and other factors so a baseline exists. Without one, there is no way to measure the effect of anti-racism policies, she says.
Paul is also calling for wellness checks to be taken out of the hands of police whenever possible. She says the checks could be better absorbed by existing agencies or new agencies with a clear mandate. Either way, Paul says policy should be guided by those affected.
“If you allow yourself to be led by those communities, then you have a much greater chance of creating a program, or a solution, that does more good than harm,” she said.
On Friday, Fredericton Green MP Jenica Atwin attended a ceremony at St. Mary’s First Nation with Moore’s mother and daughter. Eight candles were lit in commemoration of other Indigenous people killed over the past year.
“For a government that speaks some big words about having good relations with Indigenous communities or having open dialogue ... it's the worst relationship I've seen," says MP @JenicaAtwin. #ChantelMoore #Police #Racism
“There're no real words that can gather the collective grief, the hurt, and the anger,” Atwin said. “We heard from many elders saying, enough's enough.”
Atwin said that in her death, Moore is connected to the children taken from their families and sent to residential schools, because “it’s been institutionalized” to treat Indigenous people as less-than non-Indigenous people in Canada.
“There is a significant role that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police played in this, in taking the children from their families, that has a lasting legacy (and) that has created a barrier and created mistrust,” she said.
“Systemic racism is within every institution in our country, including policing,” she said.
Meanwhile, in N.B., Premier Blaine Higgs and Aboriginal Affairs Minister Arlene Dunn have refused calls for an inquiry into systemic racism in the province, opting for a commissioner to study the issue, leading to condemnation from Mi’gmawe’l Tplu’taqnn Incorporated and the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick leaders.
“The province thinks they understand racism better than those who experience it. It’s more of the same paternalism,” said Chief George Ginish of Natoaganeg First Nation in a statement at the time.
“For a government that speaks some big words about having good relations with Indigenous communities or having open dialogue, or having the table always open, it's the worst relationship I've seen,” said Atwin.
John Woodside / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada's National Observer