Wolastoqey Nation chiefs are disappointed with Premier Blaine Higgs’ statement on the death of Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman living in the territory of the Wolastoqey people in New Brunswick.
“We are shocked,” they said in a press release Friday.
Chantel Moore, of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in B.C., was shot and killed by police in her Edmundston, N.B. apartment on June 4.
Police were there on a wellness check.
Two days later, the province gave a statement calling for an investigation into New Brunswick police.
Higgs did not address Moore’s community.
On Wednesday, Wolastoqey chiefs expressed their disappointment in a press release, calling Higgs’ June 6 statement tone-deaf and condescending.
The chiefs also called for an investigation into N.B. police interaction with Indigenous residents.
On Thursday, Moore’s family held a private funeral service in Edmundston.
The same day, Higgs gave another statement on her death.
Wolastoqey chiefs said in a Friday release they were hoping he would choose his words more carefully this time.
“We were wrong,” they said.
“Instead, he stood before reporters and said that a viable alternative to that tragic night would have been for police to shoot her in the leg.”
While referring to the need to balance police and citizen safety, Higgs said in Thursday’s statement that “surely you could shoot differently, you could shoot in the leg, if you had to shoot at all.”
The chiefs say Higgs’ words caused great pain.
“This is not only incredibly insensitive… This is also a cruel comment to the Indigenous people all over New Brunswick and Canada who have experienced biased and unfair treatment from police and from our justice system.”
The New Brunswick Minister of Aboriginal Affairs Jake Stewart, on the other hand, expressed his shock and condolences on the day of Moore’s funeral, which took place on Thursday. The chiefs said in the release that Stewart’s words gave them hope.
At yesterday’s press briefing, Stewart has promised an investigation, but the province said the process could take months.
In their Wednesday release, the Wolastoqey chiefs said an independent review of the justice system needs to happen now.
“Justice delayed is justice denied,” they said.
Correction: The excerpt of this story originally indicated that Chantel Moore was shot and killed by an RCMP officer. That was incorrect. She was shot and killed by an Edmundston police officer.