OTTAWA – A year ago today, a young woman named Chantel Moore from the Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nation, was gunned down by police in Edmundston, N.B., who had been dispatched to check on her welfare.
Chantel was a slight girl who, police say, answered the knock at her door with a knife in her hand. The police responded by shooting her multiple times, leaving her broken body lying outside her apartment for hours.
“That was an unconscionable indignity,” says Lorraine Whitman, the President of the Native Woman’s Association of Canada (NWAC). “But what has happened in the year since Chantel’s death is also unconscionable. No charges have been laid, and Chantel’s mother, Martha Martin, has been left in the dark every step of the way. This is not justice. And this would not be happening if the killer was not an officer of the law and the victim was not Indigenous.”
Prosecutors say they will tell Ms. Martin next week whether they will charge the officer who fired the gun that killed her daughter.
Ms. Martin wants justice for Chantel. But she also wants the police to stop killing Indigenous people. She has a list of at least 10 others whose lives have been taken by members of law enforcement agencies across the country since June 4, 2020. The youngest was 16 years old.
“Within our policing system, we have a problem,” says Ms. Martin. “Many Indigenous people have lost their lives.”
Ms. Martin has never been allowed to see her daughter’s autopsy report. And she was not informed when Quebec investigators, who had been asked to look into Chantel’s killing, completed their work.
NWAC is calling upon all governments, federal and provincial, and upon police forces across the country to take the steps necessary to end the needless deaths and assaults of Indigenous people at the hands of police. It is asking that the RCMP and other Canadian police forces join with its leaders in forming a task force that will rewrite the relationship between police and Indigenous women. And it is asking that victims’ families who are dealing with the worst of all tragedies be treated with respect.
Today, NWAC is making yellow faceless dolls at an online workshop run out of its Resiliency Lodge to honour Chantel Moore. It is also asking people across Canada to commemorate her memory, and to join in demanding an end to this violence.
“We cannot bring back Chantel or the other Indigenous people who have died at the end of a police gun,” said Ms. Whitman, ”but we can let it be known that we will no longer be silent in the face of these horrific killings.”