The First Nations Leadership Council (FNLC) is deeply disappointed and disturbed by the Crown’s ruling that no criminal charges be laid against the Edmundston Police Force Officer who fatally shot Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old mother and member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, five times during a wellness check in her apartment on June 4, 2020.
Within weeks of the tragic shooting, it was revealed that the officer responsible for killing Chantel had returned to work after being placed on paid administrative leave and has since remained on administrative duties pending a decision by the Public Prosecutions Services on whether to lay criminal charges against him. Chantel’s mother, Martha Martin, and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation hereditary chiefs and elected council had called for the officer’s removal and demanded that he be charged with murder under the Criminal Code of Canada in their statement.
Today, the Crown’s decision to not lay criminal charges is a stinging blow that reflects the ongoing reality that First Nations in the Province live– an endless cycle of unchecked racism and violence and the delay and denial of justice.
Today, justice remains elusive for Chantel Moore’s family and loved ones, the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, and for First Nations across the country who experience, year after year, the devastating impacts of racialized policing, colonial violence, and institutionalized racism. The ruling follows on the heels of the release of the MMIWG National Action Plan to address the violence, racism and disproportionate deaths of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Chantel’s death confirms the need for the plan to substantively address and transform how policing is still very much a structure that maintains colonial violence within a colonial state. Above all, our hearts go out to Chantel Moore’s family and Nation, and we remember Chantel as a loving daughter and mother who had many plans and dreams for the future.
Today’s decision is an offensive reminder that Indigenous people in Canada still cannot count on the justice system for protection and accountability. Our citizens suffer from disproportionate rates of racialized violence at the hands of police forces across Canada, and this is a clear indication there is absolutely no culpability when it comes to Indigenous people dying at the hands of police. There have been numerous inquiries, studies, reports, and a First Nations Justice Strategy in BC created to address the need for justice and policing reform. The lack of action on implementing proposed solutions will only lead to more of our citizens being injured or dying and a complete lack of trust by our citizens. The time for co-developed justice and police reform is now.
The Crown’s ruling is outrageous and unacceptable as the entire country continuously struggles with a trail of systemic failures in their dealings with Indigenous peoples. I’m frustrated that First Nations continue to be ignored as the brutality and lethal violence continues as a deadly epidemic. The government of Canada must immediately show leadership and take action to transform the policing and justice systems which in their current form threatens to tear Canadian society apart.