More than 100 people gathered in downtown Vancouver on Saturday calling for justice for Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman from B.C. who was shot and killed by police in Edmundston, N.B.
The event in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery was one of several tributes held across the country for Moore, 26, who was killed by police during a wellness check on June 4. She was originally from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation.
During a healing walk in Edmunston, Moore’s family called for a pubic inquiry into her death and questioned how a wellness check could turn fatal.
In Vancouver, Diana Day, lead matriarch of the Pacific Association of First Nations Women, said systemic racism in Canada has been putting Indigenous women at risk for hundreds of years.
“The system is failing us drastically, miserably,” she said.
“There needs to be some changes, some very drastic changes so that we can ensure that our women are protected and safe, and that they go to the police for help when they need it. Right now, we have a lot of women who don’t go to the police for help because they’re not being helped by the police.”
Day said police conduct needs to be investigated and more culturally safe spaces and resources need to be made available for Indigenous women and girls in Vancouver.
People who are not Indigenous should support the cause and create awareness among their own communities, she added.
Police in Canada are under intense scrutiny for their encounters with Indigenous communities.
On Friday night, Rodney Levi, a 48-year-old man from the Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation in New Brunswick, was killed by an RCMP officer.
Recently released dash-cam footage shows a Mountie tackling and punching Allan Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, at a parking lot outside a casino in Fort McMurray in March.
Anti-racism protests have also been held across the country in support of Black Lives Matter and in defunding the police, including one in Vancouver on Saturday morning.
Candace Curr attended the event for Moore in Vancouver to show support for Moore’s family. She said she knows Moore’s grandparents, and that they are deeply hurting as they grieve the loss.
She said she hopes a greater focus on racism will lead to structural change.
“Indigenous people and Black people have been fighting these injustices for a very long time,” she said.
“I know we’re living through a pandemic right now so it’s really hard to gather, but this is just the beginning and this can’t stop once the pandemic is over.
“We still need to rally together as people have been for years, but the numbers need to continue to grow.”