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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

"How does a call for help turn into a call for the coroner?"

AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde is demanding that an "impartial third party" investigate the circumstances surrounding the Chantel Moore shooting.

In the wake of the killing of Chantel Moore by police in New Brunswick, National Chief Perry Bellegarde of the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) is demanding that an "impartial third party" investigate the circumstances surrounding the shooting.

Ms. Moore was killed by a police officer in Edmundston, New Brunswick who was doing a "wellness" call. She was apparently shot 5 times when she allegedly threatened the officer with a knife. This comes as an RCMP officer in Nunavut is under criminal investigation for driving his vehicle into an Inuk man and with recent mass protests in Toronto and other cities after Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29 year old Afro-Indigenous woman fell to her death under very suspicious circumstances involving police in Toronto.

Moore's shooting highlights the dangers when police are sent to check on people from racialized and marginalized communities. In an alarming number of cases these checks result in the harming or killing of those the police were supposed to be trying to help or ensure the safety of.

As her distraught grandmother Grace Frank said "I don't believe this. They were going there to check on her, not kill her. This is not right. Why would they shoot her five times?"

It is very difficult to understand.

How does a call for help turn into a call for the coroner? This should never happen. We need to find out whether race played any role in the police response and whether a less extreme use of force should have been used. This young First Nations mother and daughter did not need to die. The killing of our people by those who have a duty to protect and serve has to stop.
My heart goes out to Chantel's family, friends and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. We should all be concerned that a wellness check resulted in the death of someone so young and full of potential. This type of thing happens far too often in this country and it needs to change.

The release goes on to say:

From the B.C. Missing Women's Report to the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry in Manitoba to the Viens Commission Report in Quebec and the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, study after study has exposed the existence of systemic racism against First Nations within police forces and the legal system. Governments and police forces across the country need to take immediate action to review their practices and take the necessary steps to rebuild their relationships with First Nations. They must be accountable to the First Nations people they serve.

The Edmundston police have claimed the investigation into the killing will be an "independent review" "with the aid of New Brunswick RCMP's investigative and forensic teams". The RCMP, however, is not known for its record of impartiality or fairness when it comes to First Nations.

Eight investigators with Quebec's independent police watchdog group will also be involved, though they say the investigation "could take a few months to complete" and said "no interviews will be provided" while it is ongoing.



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