A sea of sunflower and butter yellow shirts and dresses dotted the front lawn of the BC Legislature building Thursday evening during a healing gathering for Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old Tla-o-qui-aht woman fatally shot by police in New Brunswick earlier this month.
Moore’s mother, Martha Martin, spoke to the crowd, honouring the Vancouver Island woman’s life and calling for justice for all grieving missing and murdered family and community members.
“Today I am here to be my daughter’s voice,” Martin said through tears, speaking into a loudspeaker. “She was not just a status card number, she was my daughter, a mother, an aunt, a granddaughter and most importantly, she was human.”
Moore, who was originally from the Tofino area, had recently moved to Edmunston, N.B. when police were called to check on her well being around 2:30 a.m. on June 4. A statement from the Edmundston Police Force said the responding officer was confronted “by a woman holding a knife who made threats.”
Moore was shot and pronounced dead at the scene. Her family has since stated that she was shot five times – a detail that has not been confirmed by police.
Moore’s death came less than two weeks after Minneapolis man George Floyd’s death in police custody went viral, sparking continent-wide anguish and protests demanding an end to police violence and systemic racism.
Organizers for the Victoria event emphasized that the gathering was about Chantel, not police. Attendees were encouraged to wear yellow because, as her grandmother, Grace Frank, told Black Press Media, Chantel used to tell her friends on Facebook to ‘stay golden, peeps.’
“Chantel was a kind, loving, caring, gentle person,” Frank said. “She was such an outgoing person, she just loved people.
“I certainly hope that by all the people across Canada coming together to march, rally…I really hope that brings attention all over Canada to what’s been happening for a long, long time,” she added. “We won’t give in until there’s justice because it was wrong. It was terribly wrong, what happened.”
Her words thick with emotion, Moore’s mother called for change.
“Let’s make changes to our system,” she said. “New training for wellness checks. It’s been two weeks today that my daughter was taken. I want to know why.”
The BC First Nations Justice Council has condemned police actions in Moore’s death. In a statement, Chairperson Doug White said action is needed.
“De-escalation training and racial bias training is urgently needed across this county to avoid another senseless loss,” White said. “We are calling on government for the swift administration of justice, it took three years for Dale Culver’s case to work through the Internal Investigations process, we hope Chantel’s family will not have to wait that long.”
Quebec’s Bureau des enquetes independantes, an indepedent police watchdog organization, is investigating Chantel’s death because there is no such watchdog agency in New Brunswick.
With files from Elena Rardon, Ashley Wadhwani and the Canadian Press.