Hundreds attended a rally to show their support for the friends and family of Brady Francis in Moncton on Saturday, armed with signs and banners reading “#JusticeforBrady.”
It has now been more than 40 days since Francis, 22, was struck and killed as he left a party in Saint-Charles, a predominantly francophone town about 12 kilometres south of the Elsipogtog reserve.
The rally, organized by Francis’ friends and family, took place outside Moncton City Hall.
Attendee Lacey Clair said although she didn’t know Francis well, she will never forget him.
“Anybody who ever even met him for one minute, he always made them feel like they were his best friend,” Clair said.
She said waiting for an arrest in the case is frustrating given the evidence that points to the vehicle that was used in the incident, but notes supporters are trying to be patient as the RCMP does its job.
“I know they have to take their time to make sure the investigation is done properly and to make sure we get true justice, but the stalling and the time it’s taking, it’s holding people back from fully feeling,” Clair said.
“Everybody is still in a waiting mode and as soon as there’s an arrest, I think our community can finally heal.
Clair said she was glad to see many come together at the rally in the fight for justice.
“The fact that we have a lot of allies here that are not from Elispogtog shows that this is a New Brunswick issue, not a First Nations issue,” Clair said.
“It could have happened to anybody, and that’s why we need to push that it’s not a race thing — it’s a New Brunswick thing, and that’s why it’s great to have non-Native allies out here today supporting.”
Band councillor Ruth Levi, director of social services in Elsipogtog, said if the driver won’t come forward themselves, she hopes the RCMP will be diligent.
“Like anybody else, you want justice the day after or the day of — however, we don’t want another Tina Fontaine case or a Colten Boushie case here in our Aboriginal territory, so we have to be very patient,” Levi said.
To search for additional evidence, the RCMP closed the stretch of road this week where Francis was killed.
“It shows us that they’re still working on it — that’s why we have to be quite patient with them, because we see that they are working,” Levi said.
“Every day everything that they do for this investigation is a step closer to justice.”
Francis’ best friend, TC Ward, said he’s still in disbelief and extremely shaken following his friend’s death.
“I’m having a hard time coping with it and I haven’t been able to leave my house without feeling scared that the same thing will happen to me and there will be no justice for my family either,” Ward said.
“This is not just for me — it’s for everybody. Everybody is scared to leave their house now because we don’t know if the RCMP is going to have our back and support us if something like this were to happen.”
Ward called for the driver to come forward, noting nobody in the community is seeking retribution — they want closure and to be able to move ahead with the healing process.
Francis would have turned 23 on April 21. A benefit will be held on that date in his honour to raise money to help the family cover legal fees.