Indigenous

'Senseless killing' of Chantel Moore leaves Tla-o-qui-aht chief looking for answers

The chief of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island says Chantel Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht member, appears to have been the victim of a "senseless killing" by a New Brunswick police officer. 

Moses Martin says Moore is 5th young family member lost to tragedy

Chantel Moore, 26, was shot dead by police in New Brunswick early Thursday morning during a 'wellness check' gone wrong. (Chantel Moore/Facebook)

The chief of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island says Chantel Moore, a Tla-o-qui-aht member, appears to have been the victim of a "senseless killing" by a New Brunswick police officer. 

Moore, 26, was shot and killed early Thursday morning by a police officer in Edmundston, N.B., during a wellness check.

Edmundston police say Moore had a knife and attacked the officer when she exited the apartment and that the officer "had no choice but to defend himself."

"It's sometimes difficult to put into words when your emotions are kind of over the top and especially in what appears to be a senseless killing," said Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin, who is Moore's great-uncle. 

"You wonder about a lot of things, about what could have been done differently. Why didn't the officer run or why didn't he try to disarm her?"

Martin considered Moore as one of his grandchildren. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation has about 1,200 members.

Martin, whose son is a 20-year veteran of the RCMP, said police are supposed to be trained to de-escalate these types of dangerous situations. 

"They carry Tasers... why didn't he Taser her?" said Martin.

"Why couldn't he have tried something else? To me she was a tiny little lady."  

Martin said there must be a better screening process for police officers.

"We see all this stuff that is going on down in the [US] as well, and it all leads to the same thing. How do these people get into the forces?" said Martin. 

"There needs to be a change. We know that, we've seen too much of that." 

Tribal Council expects information

Edmundston police have asked Quebec's independent police watchdog, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), to investigate the incident. The BEI said the RCMP would also provide support during the investigation.

Martin said police have so far provided no information about the incident, including how many shots were fired. 

"It almost feels like they are telling us it's none of our business," he said.

Marin said he is working through Kekinusuqs Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, to communicate with authorities about the case. 

The tribal council said in a statement is has reached out to the Edmundston police "seeking clarification and answers to this untimely and sudden death." The statement said the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council said it expected "immediate action on this request and to be updated throughout the entirely of the process." 

Martin said Moore is the fifth young person in his family to be lost to tragedy. In 2018, Marcel Martin, Carl Michael and Terrance Brown Jr., who were experienced on the water, went missing after their boat capsized off the coast of Tofino, B.C. Only Marcel Martin's remains have been recovered.

In 2002,  21 year-old Lisa Marie Young disappeared in Nanaimo. She was last seen in a car with a man she had met on the night of June 30.

Lisa Marie Young went missing in Nanaimo on June 30, 2002. (Facebook)

Martin said the family is struggling with the pain of this latest tragedy.

"Young Chantel to me, and to my family, was a harmless young lady," said Martin.

"Even though she was a single mom, she did her best to raise her child... I am just at a loss for words of what can be said here. We have suffered another loss."

'Enough is enough'

Marion Buller, the former chief commissioner of the national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, said there should be a full, independent investigation and that "Canada should know what happened" to Moore.

Lorraine Whitman, the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada, said in a video statement that she was "absolutely horrified" to learn of Moore's death.

Marion Buller, the former chief commissioner of the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, says all of Canada should know what happened to Chantel Moore. (CBC)

Whitman connected Moore's death with Ottawa's failure to deliver an action plan in response a year after the MMIWG inquiry issued its report and recommendations.

"Right now is the time for the government to come to the table, for the government to draft that national action plan, for the government to say enough is enough," said Whitman, in the statement.

Moore is the fifth First Nations person to die in the past two months as a result of an encounter with police. 

Stewart Kevin Andrews, 22, Jason Collins, 36, and Eishia Hudson, 16, were killed by Winnipeg police in the month of April. In Prince George, B.C, Everett Patrick died after he was taken into RCMP custody the same month. 

A 2018 CBC News investigation found that at least 69 Indigenous people have been the victims of fatal encounters with police between 2000 and 2017.

with files from Olivia Stefanovich and Yvette Brend

now