OTTAWA – The President of the Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) is urging the federal government to rapidly introduce measures that would weed out racism on police forces in Canada and prevent future acts of brutality by police against Indigenous people.
Lorraine Whitman told the Members of Parliament who sit on the Public Safety committee of the House of Commons on Friday that police racism is a fact of life for her organizations’ members, the Indigenous women of Canada, and there can be no more delays in taking the steps necessary to put an end to it.
Ms. Whitman has met twice with Martha Martin, the mother of Chantel Moore who was gunned down in June by police in Edmundston, N.B. Ms. Martin is devastated and wants to know why the officer implicated in the killing has not been suspended from duty when suspensions have occurred in other Edmundston police shootings, Ms. Whitman told the committee.
Chantel is just one of many Indigenous women who have been killed or brutalized by police, she said.
“These acts of violence and torture must be exposed and eliminated and those who do it must be brought to justice,” said Ms. Whitman. “The ‘Rule of Law’ means no one is above the law and that we are all equal under the law. It appears clear that the Rule of Law does not apply to Indigenous people in Canada.”
Ms. Whitman spoke in July with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki. Subsequent to that meeting, she sent a letter to the Commissioner urging a number of measures that NWAC hopes will be incorporated into the response to the review the Commissioner is conducting of the systemic racism within her force.
Ms. Whitman told the committee that Indigenous women are frustrated by the slow pace of change, and she asked the MPs to press the government to take urgent action, including the rapid requirement for measures such as body cameras on officers, de-escalation protocols, and the inclusion of race and gender in crime statistics so the real toll of deaths can be known.
Ms. Whitman said she is saddened by the apparent lack of outrage, on the part of the government and of ordinary Canadians, at the deaths of indigenous people at the hands of police in Canada.
“We were horrified, along with the rest of the world, at the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis. We applaud the peaceful protests in cities and towns across the United States, and even here in Canada, that followed his death,” she told the committee. “But where is the horror being expressed at the police killings of Indigenous people in this country? “ asked Ms. Whitman. “Where are the protests over the deadly shooting of a beautiful, young First Nations woman in Edmundston, N. B.? Why are the Indigenous people of Canada, the Indigenous women, left to fight this fight by themselves?”
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