First Nation leaders call for Indigenous-led investigative team to look into 2 deaths
'We need our own Indigenous council to go investigate these murders,' says Wolastoq Grand Council Chief
First Nation leaders are calling for an Indigenous-led team to head the investigation into the deaths of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi, two Indigenous people shot and killed by police in New Brunswick in a span of eight days.
"I don't like things done about us without us," said Imelda Perley, also known as Opolahsomuwehs, who is instructor at the Mi'kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre.
Perley said she would like the regional chief in Quebec and a women's association involved in the investigation into Chantel Moore's death.
"I don't think it can be done if it's just the police without any guidance by Indigenous elders and leaders."
Moore, 26, was killed by Edmundston police on June 4 during a wellness check.
Honour walks were held in Halifax, Edmundston, Fredericton and Moncton in memory of Moore, who's from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia.
Moore had recently moved to New Brunswick to be closer to her mother and daughter Gracie.
Levi, a 48-year-old from Metepenagiag First Nation near Miramichi, was shot and killed by RCMP Friday night.
Eight investigators with Quebec's Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, which examines cases where civilians are seriously injured or killed in police operations, arrived in New Brunswick on Saturday to investigate the shootings.
The agency won't comment until it files its report, which could take months.
BEI said it will provide the family with "all relevant information relating to the investigation process as long as this does not interfere with the investigation."
The agency will submit a report to the coroner for the cases and the New Brunswick Public Prosecution Service, which will decide whether criminal charges are laid against the police officers involved.
Ron Tremblay, Wolastoq Grand Council chief and elder, was heartbroken when he found out Saturday the BEI would be investigating Levi's death.
"We need our own Indigenous council to go investigate these murders because our people need to be a part of this," Tremblay said.
Prior to Levi's death, Tremblay had written a letter to Edmundston Mayor Cyrille Simard, the New Brunswick Police Association and the Edmundston Police Department requesting an Indigenous person be part of the team investigating Moore's death.
Police officers who have complaints against them for racial discrimination should be fired, Tremblay said.
The way police handle mental health calls from Indigenous people needs to be addressed, Roger Augustine, Assembly of First Nations regional chief for New Brunswick, said in a news release Sunday.
"We understand that an independent investigation team will be coming in from Quebec, but you usually get a biased result when an organisation is investigated by one of their own," Augustine said.
"The only way we can accept the sincerity of the claims of reform by the RCMPs top brass is to have inclusion of our people and our leaders at the table."
In an interview with Radio-Canada, Augustine said there should be a "serious review of the RCMP, of any authority that people have over us."
He also said there should be an open discussion about increasing tribal policing — Indigenous-led forces responsible for looking after First Nations, Métis and Inuit communities.
Other leaders have called for the creation of an agency within New Brunswick or the Maritimes to investigate the deaths.
CBC has permission from Chantel Moore's family to use the photos included in this story.
- An earlier version of this story said incorrectly that RCMP were involved in both fatal shootings. In fact, Edmundston police killed Chantel Moore. RCMP killed Rodney Levi.Jun 15, 2020 11:18 AM AT
With files from Gary Moore, Radio-Canada, CBC News Network