B.C. woman shot dead during police wellness check had just made fresh start to be with her child, family says
Police say woman emerged from her apartment with a knife and attacked officer
Chantel Moore, a Vancouver Island woman who died after being shot in New Brunswick by police early Thursday, was kind, gentle and bubbly, and was making a fresh start to be closer to her mother and six-year-old daughter, her family says.
In a statement, the Edmundston Police Force said officers were called to do a wellness check on a woman in an apartment in the city. When they arrived, she emerged with a knife and attacked an officer, Insp. Steve Robinson told reporters on Thursday.
"He had no choice but to defend himself," Robinson said.
Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, died at the scene.
"I'm pissed. I'm outraged," Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said Friday in Ottawa.
Miller said that he watched several incidents involving police and Indigenous people yesterday in what he described as "disgust."
"I don't understand how someone dies during a wellness check? Police serve Canadians and Indigenous peoples of Canada — not the opposite. These independent inquires need to bring justice," said Miller.
Watch as Chantel Moore's great aunt, Nora Martin, describes who she was and what questions her family is asking:
His outrage echoes words from Indigenous leaders.
"It's shocking. It's appalling. Policing in North America has just so deteriorated to this point to where we are on the verge of civil unrest here," Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, said Friday.
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman loved dirt biking and swimming, and was devoted to her family, loved ones say.
Moore was born in Edmundston, N.B., but moved to B.C. as a small child and grew up in Nanaimo and Port Alberni, her great-aunt says.
She was adopted by a family from about age four until age 14 but ran away, and was raised by her grandmother after that in Port Alberni.
She'd lived in Port Alberni for the past four years and recently saved money to move away, according to one of her siblings.
'She would never hold a knife'
News of her death has stunned many in the tight-knit Vancouver Island communities.
"She was funny. Bubbly. She was such a little joker," said Melinda Martin, a cousin of Moore's mother from Port Alberni.
Martin said she wants justice.
"She would never hold a knife," she said, sobbing.
Martin said Moore had just saved the money to move to New Brunswick to be closer to her daughter, Gracie, who had been living with Moore's mother.
She said her younger sister was proud and in good spirits. She was off to see her mother and child, then head home.
"She was so excited," said Martin. She says her sister called her every day, and they'd spoken around 10:40 p.m. PT the night before she died.
Not long after, around 1 a.m. PT, Moore's grandmother, Grace Frank, got a call telling her that her granddaughter had been shot in the chest and was dead.
Nora Martin, Moore's great-aunt, spoke for Frank, who could be heard through the telephone, sobbing in the background.
"We heard that one cop went to Chantel's place by himself, and that he shot at her five times and she was trying to attack him with a knife," said Martin.
She believes that a man who dated Moore called police from Montreal or Toronto to ask to check on her well-being because he feared she was being harassed by someone.
Frank was too overcome to speak but posted to her Facebook page.
"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?"
For years, Moore worked at the Tseshaht market and Fas Gas Plus gas station, a pit-stop on the Island Highway.
Tseshaht Coun. Hugh Braker said the news was upsetting, especially given a recent racist attack on the Tseshaht First Nations territory near Port Alberni and ongoing racial tensions with police in Canada and the U.S., with the death of George Floyd underscoring how many police incidents end in the death of a person of colour.
"It just heightens the tension and comes at such a bad time — the shooting of any woman is terrible and tragic at any time," said Braker.
There will be an independent review of the shooting, with the aid of New Brunswick RCMP's investigative and forensic teams, the Edmundston force said.
Editor's note: There have been numerous posts on social media urging the media to remove images of Chantel Moore out of respect to Tla-o-qui-aht cultural traditions. The CBC was provided photos of Chantel by members of her family. The CBC also spoke to Chief Councillor Moses Martin of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation who said the decision on displaying photographs is at the family's discretion. "We need to get this message out and this young woman has become the face of a societal issue that we want people to understand happens, and should not," he added.
- An earlier version of this story said Melinda Martin was Chantel Moore's half sister. In fact, she was a cousin to Moore's mother.May 12, 2021 1:20 PM PT