B.C. Indigenous leaders call for reform after 3rd member of Vancouver Island First Nation shot by police
Published Tuesday, May 11, 2021 11:01AM PDT Last Updated Tuesday, May 11, 2021 11:42AM PDT
VICTORIA -- Indigenous leaders in British Columbia are calling for immediate police reform after three members of a small Vancouver Island First Nation have been shot by police in less than a year.
A Tla-o-qui-aht woman was shot multiple times Saturday when police responded to a report of a disturbance at a home in Ucluelet, B.C.
The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIO) is investigating the shooting. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation identified the woman Tuesday as a mother of two and said she remains in critical condition.
The shooting occurred less than three months since 28-year-old Tla-o-qui-aht man Julian Jones was shot and killed by the RCMP on Meares Island, north of Tofino.
Jones is the second Tla-o-qui-aht member to die at the hands of police in the past year.
In June, Chantel Moore, 26, was shot and killed during a wellness check by municipal police in New Brunswick.
“Our community and our families are completely devastated,” said Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin in a statement Tuesday. “Needless to say, we are experiencing heavy trauma and shock.”
The chief noted that the Tla-o-qui-aht population is only about 1,150 people.
“What will it take to make the tragedies stop?” asked Cowichan Tribes member and B.C. First Nations Summit executive Lydia Hwitsum in the statement. “The use of lethal force by Canadian police forces against Indigenous peoples is a deadly epidemic in Canada.”
In the statement, the secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs offered prayers to the Tla-o-qui-aht people, “who are facing yet another police shooting, while still managing the trauma and grief of the shootings of Julian Jones and Chantel Moore with no response to previous calls.”
“We refuse to sit idly by and be silent while our people continue to be shot and murdered,” secretary-treasurer Kukpi7 Judy Wilson added.
The IIO is asking anyone with information about Saturday's shooting in Ucluelet to speak with investigators.
"If the actions of the officers weren't justified then we will refer the matter to the Crown for consideration of charges," the IIO's chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald told CTV News on Monday. "If they were justified then we'll file a full public report so everyone can see for themselves what happened in this case."