(Lheidli T’enneh Territory, Prince George BC) The British Columbia Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) and the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador (AFNQL) applaud the charges that have finally been laid against the RCMP Officers involved in the death of Dale Culver in 2017. Despite the deplorably slow investigation process that has taken almost six years, these charges are an important first step towards justice for the Culver family.
However, statements made last week by many Canadian Chiefs of Police regarding the Tyre Nichols case, demonstrates hypocrisy, inherent biases and the troubling double standard applied by many police services when it comes to the lives of Indigenous people in Canada. Systemic racism remains pervasive within many police services and there must formal recognition of its existence and greater commitment to institutional change.
“Last week, Chiefs of Police from services across Canada spoke out against the savage murder of Tyre Nichols by police in Memphis Tennessee – but they remain silent when it comes to the murder of Indigenous people by their own forces here in Canada,” said Terry Teegee, Regional Chief of the BCAFN and co-lead on the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) justice portfolio. “Where was the condemnation when Dale Culver was killed, or Julian Jones, or Chantel Moore?” he continued.
Chiefs of the police forces in Toronto, Ottawa, Windsor, Edmonton, and Regina, as well as the Alberta and Ontario Associations of Chiefs of Police made public statements condemning the murder of Tyre Nichols. But there were no such statements when Dale Culver was killed in 2017.
Indigenous people are more than ten times as likely as the average Canadian to be killed by police, a statistic that points to the need for structural changes to policing in this country. The BCAFN is calling for a summit of public safety ministers from all provinces and the federal government to address the horrific rates of violence against Indigenous peoples.
“It’s time that the provincial public safety ministers from across the country, along with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Marco Mendocino come together to address this continuing colonial violence. The time to act is now, it is not acceptable that still today Indigenous lives are taken, especially by services meant to protect them.” said Ghislain Picard, Regional Chief of the AFNQL, and co-lead on the AFN justice portfolio. “First Nations policing must be made an essential service, and all police in this country must receive serious training in de-escalation and cultural safety,” he continued.