Man killed by police on Saturday was young father with 'a smile to remember,' says sister
Community mentor says tensions between the Indigenous community, police at all-time high
The sister of a 22-year-old killed by Winnipeg police on Saturday morning says he was a man with "a smile to remember" who loved his family.
Stewart Kevin Andrews was shot by police after officers were responding to a report of a robbery and windows being broken near the city's Maples neighbourhood shortly after 4 a.m. A 16-year-old boy was also injured during the incident, police said.
Both were taken to the hospital, which is where Andrews died.
"He is more than a statistic," Alexcia Andrews said in a text message to CBC News. "[He] had many friends who cared about him."
Alexcia said she's remembering her brother as a devoted father who was raising three children with his girlfriend, and as a loving grandson who would do anything for his grandparents.
She said her brother recently became a father and had taken in his girlfriend's two other children as his own.
"Stewart and his baby were inseparable, basically like magnets," Alexcia said.
She said Stewart was planning to go to college to study carpentry once his son was old enough to go to daycare.
"He wanted a future that involved him being in his son's life," she said. "He wanted a future with his family, to grow old with his sons and daughter."
Third Indigenous person shot in 10 days
The fatal police shooting is the third in 10 days. Earlier this month, police shot and killed a 16-year-old girl accused in a liquor store robbery and a 36-year-old armed man in a domestic call. All three were Indigenous.
"It's been many years since I've seen tensions this high between the community and the Winnipeg police," said Michael Champagne, a youth mentor and community organizer.
Champagne said Winnipeg's Indigenous community is polarized and people are angry. He wants police to improve communication and is calling for more investments in crime prevention.
"If the police are able to articulate to the community when they show up in a situation that someone has a weapon we have to respond in this way ... then that will better help people in community deal with the police," he said.
"I know that even for myself when I see a police car going by my heart starts beating a little faster."
Champagne believes crime will continue to grow until root causes of poverty and trauma are addressed.
"We have to talk about how we prevent these types of situations from happening before the police are even called, before the police have to give these lethal force situations."
He said in his opinion the relationship between police and the Indigenous community was best between 2013 and 2015, citing the attendance of officers at Meet Me at the Bell Tower events in the North End as an example of how former police chief Devon Clunis led community-based prevention strategies. He said since the chief retired in 2016 it's been harder to get police involved.
"Without those partners supporting community resources to prevent families from falling apart and falling into poverty people not having the education people not having the jobs is going to result in people doing the crime and doing the drugs."
Clunis's successor Chief Danny Smyth has been involved in community forums and MMIWG initiatives. Police say the force takes its relationship with the Indigenous community seriously and understands the frustrations people have and is vowing to keep working on improving rapport.
On Sunday morning, police said the 16-year-old boy who was injured at the same time as Andrews had been charged with robbery, use of an imitation firearm during the commission of an indictable offence, possession of a weapon and pointing a firearm.
He is also charged with two counts of failing to comply with a sentence and one count of possession of a firearm, restricted or prohibited weapon, or ammunition contrary to a prohibition order.
Smyth said Saturday weapons were recovered at the shooting scene, but said he couldn't get into specifics now that Manitoba's police watchdog has taken over the investigation.
Andrews is the fourth person to die in a police shooting in Winnipeg so far this year.
In March, police shot a 27-year-old man after getting a call that he was violently assaulting two other adults with an edged weapon in a Charleswood family home.
With files from Dana Hatherly