Martha Martin lost her daughter during a police wellness check. Now she's grieving her son, too
‘For the 2nd time I’m taking a child home. But in a box,’ says mother of Chantel Moore, who was shot by police
Photos included in this story were acquired with the permission of the family.
The mother of Chantel Moore, who was shot in a police wellness check last summer, is returning to New Brunswick from B.C. today after collecting the ashes of her son, Mike Martin.
The 23-year-old man was found dead in the Surrey Pretrial Centre earlier this month, another tragic blow for the family.
Martha Martin says her son took his life after a struggle with addiction, crime and coping with the loss of his 26-year-old sister.
Chantel Moore was shot in a late-night police wellness check on June 4 in Edmundston, N.B. The officer alleges she lunged at him with a knife before he fired.
"Today I'm flying home with my son's ashes. For the second time I'm taking a child home. But in a box," said Martin, struggling through tears on Monday in a call from the airport.
"How do we prevent any other parent getting this call?" said Martin.
"Here is a young man who was grieving the loss of his own sister to go undetected all night. To have enough time to take his own life," said Martin.
She believes her son, who would have turned 24 in January, took his life on Nov. 13.
She said that her son was not proud of some of his past actions, which she believes included a robbery.
"I know he wanted to make changes. He asked if I was ashamed of him because of his life. I told him no matter what ups and downs you have you are still going to be my child," said Martin.
Martin said her son had completed his general education degree and was advocating for people who are homeless. She said her son talked about how people looked at him with "disgust" and often had no place to shelter or shower.
He was keen to connect with family, and his culture.
"He was a very loving, caring guy. He always wanted to be there to help people," said Martin.
A social worker and family member came to her home to inform her of the most recent death.
"They didn't want to send police, given what happened to Chantel," said Martin.
That's when she learned she'd lost both of her children.
In a statement earlier this month, the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said Martin's mother was notified about her son's death on Nov. 14.
"His death was a compounding effect from the shooting of his sister on a wellness check," said the council, which represents 14 First Nations on Vancouver Island.
Both siblings were born in New Brunswick, but their mother was originally from Vancouver Island. All are members of the Tlaoquiaht First Nation, located near Tofino. Moore grew up in B.C., as did her brother who had been living in Port Alberni on Vancouver Island. Martha Martin currently lives in New Brunswick.
"The fact that a Nuu-chah-nulth mother could have two children die in less than six months dealing with the justice system is unbearable, staggering and appalling," said the council.
Quebec's police watchdog agency is probing the New Brunswick shooting and a lawyer representing the family has filed several complaints against the New Brunswick police.
Martin said her children were very close.
When Chantel Moore was brought to the hospital to meet her infant brother her mother said she was smitten.
"She literally claimed him, as she said, 'He's my baby now.' She loved him right from Day 1."
Martin says she needs to understand how this could happen to her son who had tried to get out to see family when his sister died, but because of COVID-19 restrictions, he was unable to join the family to mourn her loss.
"As a mother I feel like I am forever waiting on this system for answers," she said.
B.C.'s Public Safety Minister's office confirmed a death at the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre on Nov. 14. In an email a spokesperson said, "Any death in custody is a tragedy and our thoughts are with this individual's family and friends."
B.C. Corrections and the BC Coroners Services are both investigating. No further details were available due to privacy concerns.
Where to get help
Crisis Centre B.C.: 1-800-SUICIDE, 1-800-784-2433
Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789
Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311
Online Chat Service for Youth: YouthInBC.com (noon-1 a.m.)
Online Chat Service for Adults: CrisisCentreChat.ca (noon to 1 a.m.)
Kids Help: 1-800-668-6868, live chat counselling at kidshelpphone.ca
Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre
If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention. Here are some warning signs:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Substance abuse
- Feeling trapped
- Hopelessness and helplessness
- Mood changes