A year after Chantel Moore was fatally shot by a police officer in Edmundston, N.B., her mother’s suffering remains, as do many unanswered questions.
“The pain still hurts as much as it did the first day that I received the news that she had been shot and killed on June 4,” Moore’s mother, Martha Martin, said in an interview this week. “It’s a memory that will never go away.”
Moore, a 26-year-old Indigenous woman, was shot by a member of the Edmundston Police Force during a wellness check. Investigators said at the time that the shooting occurred after the young woman approached the officer with a knife in her hand.
Quebec’s independent police watchdog, known as the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, investigated the case because New Brunswick does not has its own police oversight agency. The watchdog submitted its findings to the New Brunswick prosecutors’ office in December, but no decision has been announced on possible charges.
Martin said she and her lawyer have a meeting Monday with the Crown, and she is hoping to finally learn more. “On June 7 we’ll have a better idea if there will be any charges against the police officer that shot and killed my daughter,” she said.
The Quebec investigators have made few details public. They said someone made a call to Edmundston police shortly after 2 a.m. on June 4 asking police to check the health of Moore. The watchdog group says when police arrived, they knocked on a window and Moore came to the door armed with a knife. She advanced toward the officer, the watchdog said, and when she wouldn’t drop the knife, the officer fired. Attempts to revive Moore were unsuccessful.
Moore was a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island and moved to Edmundston in December 2019 to be close to her young daughter and her mother. She was also making plans to return to school.
Martin said that beyond what happens to the officer in question, broader reforms are needed to prevent similar situations in the future. “We want our government to open their eyes, that our policing has to change in the way they do wellness calls,” she said. “There is so much that needs to be addressed.”
Just eight days after Moore was shot, RCMP shot and killed Rodney Levi of Metepenagiag First Nation in New Brunswick. In that case, which was also investigated by the Quebec watchdog, the province’s prosecutions service concluded the RCMP officers involved acted lawfully to protect themselves and civilians who were present at the home in Sunny Corner, N.B., where Levi was shot.
Martin is asking people across the country to wear yellow Friday to honour not just her daughter but all Indigenous people killed by police in Canada in 2020. “What I’m going to do is put a movement forward on June 4 asking all people across Canada, whether you are Indigenous … or whatever nationality, that we wear yellow and we honour all of the people who have lost their lives at the hands of the law,” she said.
Martin has also been using a number of social media platforms to ask people to send short video clips stating their name, location and saying “Justice for Chantel Moore” or “No Justice, No Peace.” Those clips will be put together in a longer video to be posted on YouTube.
Martin said a number of events are expected across the country to mark the anniversary, including a gathering outside the British Columbia legislature. Martin is planning to attend a small feast hosted by the St. Mary’s First Nation in Fredericton. She said the event will be limited because of COVID-19 health restrictions.
A spokesman for the Justice Department said this week the public prosecutions service’s review of whether the officer who shot Moore should face charges is not complete.
“Additional investigative work had to be done, and public prosecutions only had the complete file as of early April,” Geoffrey Downey wrote in an email. “We appreciate the importance of completing our work as quickly as possible while still being thorough.”
—Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press