Wolastoqey call for meaningful justice
FREDERICTON (June 7, 2021) – The Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick is calling on the Higgs government to take meaningful action to better the justice system in the province for Indigenous peoples and all New Brunswickers.
Last summer, all the First Nations chiefs of the province gathered together with the premier to call for an independent inquiry into the provincial justice system, which continues to be a call left unanswered by this government, despite its increasing support from New Brunswickers.
“The police shooting of Chantel Moore troubles all Indigenous peoples, especially those here along Wolastoq who are so close to where the incident happened,’’ said Chief Ross Perley of Tobique First Nation. “I cannot express the well of disappointment I feel towards this government’s inaction and the prosecution’s decision.’’
Moore, a Nuu-chah-nulth woman from the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, died as a result of police shooting death on June 4, 2020 in Edmundston during what was reported as a wellness check.
Following the shooting death of Moore, New Brunswick chiefs presented several ideas to the province on how to improve policing for First Nations people in New Brunswick. “Unfortunately, this premier has very little interest in what we have to say. The relationship with the provincial government and First Nations has become fractured to say the least. I doubt any progress has been made on this issue because it is clearly not a priority for the premier, who jammed Indigenous issues in with three other departments once he got a majority,” Chief Perley continued.
A year after Moore’s death, her family is only now hearing from the province on what happened that fateful night, even though the results of an investigation into the incident was delivered to the government more than five months ago. This is unacceptable. Chief Gabriel Atwin of Kingsclear First Nation said First Nations people throughout the province remain concerned about what happened in Moore’s case and what is being done to ensure it never happens again.
“It’s been more than a year now, and quite frankly First Nations people continue to be concerned for their safety,” Chief Atwin said. “We know there is systemic racism in our public institutions toward Indigenous peoples in New Brunswick, we can’t even get this government to work with us collaboratively on addressing these injustices without them telling us what’s best and making decisions unilaterally.”
“The death of Chantel Moore should have been a call to action for this government. Instead they continue to ignore these problems and marginalize First Nations communities in New Brunswick,” Chief Tim Paul of Woodstock First Nation said.
Chief Patricia Bernard of Madawaska First Nation said Premier Higgs unfortunately seems more interested in sweeping the tragedy under the rug than addressing systemic racism in the justice and public safety system.
“If this government was serious about tackling this issue they would have agreed to a proper public inquiry on systemic racism in the system. Here we are a year later, no further ahead, with no progress made whatsoever on addressing this issue in New Brunswick. The Higgs government seems okay with continuing the status quo and leaving this province 30 years in the past to the detriment of all Indigenous peoples.” Chief Bernard added.
“First Nations mothers fear for their children if they have an interaction with the police or other authorities,” Chief Alan Polchies of St. Mary’s First Nation said. “That is the reality and it is unacceptable. The public needs to know what went wrong in the shooting death of Chantel Moore, so we can begin to make positive change. It may be an uncomfortable subject for the premier and the authorities but it needs to be addressed. If not, it could happen again. No one wants that.”