Renewed calls for justice as officer who fatally shot Chantel Moore faces no charges
Martha Martin says a year of heartache has ended without justice for her daughter Chantel Moore.
She joined leaders and elders of First Nation communities at a peaceful demonstration outside of the New Brunswick Legislature on Tuesday, a day after the Public Prosecution Service said it will not be laying criminal charges against the police officer who shot and killed Moore during a wellness check last June.
"I'm feeling disappointed, but not surprised," said Martin.
About 45 people joined the demonstration, wearing yellow, singing songs and lending support to Martin.
"I feel like we are collectively grieving," said Amanda Myran, who attended. "We're angry and we're disappointed, but not surprised. There needs to be a radical change in how the justice system works with Indigenous peoples."
The Public Prosecution Service says there was no reasonable prospect of a conviction after an investigation by Quebec's police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI).
Indigenous leaders renewed calls for a public inquiry into systemic racism in the justice system.
"It's necessary because innocent lives are being taken," said St. Mary's First Nation Chief Allan Polchies. "It's necessary when justice is not being served to our Indigenous peoples, to people in general, all New Brunswickers."
Originally from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, Moore, 26, had recently moved to Edmundston from Vancouver Island to be closer to her mother and daughter.
According to documents obtained earlier by CBC, Const. Jeremy Son was one of the officers called to do a late-night wellness check on Moore. Son fired four shots at her after he says she came at him with a knife.
Wolastoq Grand Council Chief Ron Tremblay also called for change in the system.
"We as Indigenous people will never find justice because it's their system, not our system. We have never received justice in that system," he told the crowd.
Speaking with reporters, Premier Blaine Higgs said he didn't think racism played a role in Moore's death.
"There's just no situation where you want to repeat something like this," he says. "It's unfortunate, no matter who it is. I don't think this is a racist issue. I think it was a very unfortunate domestic issue that we need to find better ways to deal with."
Higgs said he had just seen the report by the BEI a few days ago.
"A very sad situation. You can think of all kinds of situations where you think, 'How can this be avoided?'"
Higgs said the coroner's inquest will tackle some of those questions. The inquest is set to begin in December.
But closure for Martha Martin and others still seems far off.
"It's not a full story because she's not here to defend it," Martin says. "She's not here to say her truth, and that's where we're going to step in and continue to keep being her voice."