First Nations chiefs are seeking answers following the death of an Indigenous man who shot to death Friday by RCMP near Miramichi.
Rodney Levi, 48, of the Metepenagiag First Nation was killed Friday at a home in Boom Road, New Brunswick.
RCMP say they were called to a home for a report of an “unwanted person,” but Rev. Brodie MacLeod, the minister of the Boom Road Penecostal Church, said in a letter posted to social media Levi was “a welcomed guest” at his home that night.
“We know he was a well-liked individual,” said Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
“He had mental issues. Got along well with the chief there, he got along well with the pastor as well, and that’s all we know.”
Quebec’s independent police watchdog agency, Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), has been called in to investigate.
Bellegarde said it’s time to ask some difficult questions about what he believes is “systematic racism” within the RCMP and other police forces in Canada.
He said there needs to be more transparency in these types of investigations.
“So that’s why there’s also an element of having more civilian oversight,” Bellegarde began. “To have even First Nations leadership be part of these oversight investigations, just to make sure there’s transparency and there’s openness, and that nothing else gets missed as part of this process going forward.”
Levi’s death was the second by police shooting of an aboriginal person in just eight days.
Chantel Moore, 26, was shot to death at a home in Edmundston June 4 when police there were called to perform a wellness check on her.
BEI is investigating that incident as well.
Chief Roger Augustine, the Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, said lessons need to learned from the probes.
“Rodney and Chantel, we can’t allow those beautiful people to die in vain,” Augustine said. “There has to be something that we can do here to make lives easier.”
Bellegarde has called for inquiry into Levi’s death. Augustine said he supportive, but skeptical.
“Very seldom (do) we get exactly what we want from an investigation,” Augustine said. “Investigations are manipulated by the forces and they’re going to be manipulated in a way that is going to come out not satisfactory.”
In Fredericton, Premier Blaine Higgs expressed his condolences ahead of a COVID-19 update, and said he would be joining other ministers at a meeting of First Nations Chiefs of New Brunswick on Wednesday.
“This must be a time for us as a government to listen,” Higgs said. “Together we can take an important step forward in addressing issues and making lasting changes.”
Augustine said special ceremonies to honour Levi and Moore will be held June 21, to conincide with National Indigenous Peoples Day in Canada.