Amid outcry, investigation launched into police shooting of B.C. mother during wellness check in New Brunswick

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      At a time when widespread protests have overtaken North America due to police brutality and racism, the fatal shooting of a First Nations woman from British Columbia by police in New Brunswick has sparked shock, condemnation, outrage, and calls for answers.

      A news release from the City of Edmundston states that around 2:30 a.m. on June 4, the Edmundston Police Force (EPF) received a request for a wellness check on a woman in an apartment building.

      When police arrived at the scene, a woman holding a knife threatened the officer, who responded by firing a gun.

      The 26-year-old woman was pronounced dead at the scene.

      An autopsy is being scheduled and the investigation remains ongoing.

      The victim has been identified in news reports as Chantel Moore of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, who was born in Tofino and had lived in Port Alberni for the past few years on Vancouver Island.

      She had reportedly saved her money to move to New Brunswick to be close to her daughter Gracie, who was living with Moore’s mother.

      The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, which represent 14 First Nations on Vancouver Island, stated in a June 4 news release that it had contacted the EPF for clarification and answers about Moore’s death and called for an independent investigation.

      The B.C. First Nations Justice Council, B.C. Assembly of First Nations, the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, and the First Nations Summit all expressed their sorrow about Moore’s death and called for an investigation.

      B.C. First Nations Justice Council chairperson Doug White stated that “de-escalation training and racial-bias training is urgently needed across this country to avoid another senseless loss”.

      In addition, the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) demanded a full investigation by an impartial third party into the incident to determine why force was used and if racial identity played a role in the police response.

      An AFN news release stated that Moore was allegedly shot five times.

      According to the City of Edmundston, an independent agency, at the request of the EPF, will review police actions during the incident.

      On June 4, Quebec’s Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI, or Bureau of Independent Investigations) stated in a news release that they received a request from RCMP to assist with the investigation.

      Eight BEI investigators have been assigned to the investigation and New Brunswick RCMP are assisting with investigative and forensic support for the review.   

      "How does a call for help turn into a call for the coroner? This should never happen,” AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde stated in a news release. "My heart goes out to Chantel's family, friends and the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation. We should all be concerned that a wellness check resulted in the death of someone so young and full of potential. This type of thing happens far too often in this country and it needs to change."

      Indigenous Service Minister Marc Miller stated at a news conference today (June 5) in Ottawa that he is “outraged” by continued police violence against Indigenous people in Canada.

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.  

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