The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation is demanding “an immediate, transparent and transformative response” after an Indigenous woman was shot by police in Hitacu on May 8.
“Our community and our families are completely devastated,” said Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chief Moses Martin through a joint-statement from TFN and the First Nations Leadership Council on May 11.
“The woman who was shot by the RCMP is in critical condition and this is the third recent shooting by the RCMP of one of our people—our population is approximately 1,150 people. Needless to say, we are experiencing heavy trauma and shock. We are frustrated that we are being told to wait for the investigation, which could take months. We will be seeking support for the family and we will also be seeking interim measures with the RCMP and the IIO.”
The statement says the woman is the mother of two children and a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member, adding that the TFN must be involved in the investigation “every step of the way.”
Why are #Nuuchahnulth people the continuing victims of police shootings? 3 in 11 mths, 2 fatally-We have to find ways for police to use methods other than shooting multiple times-Our people have the right to be safe in their own homes/communities w/o fear https://t.co/LhmHuZp5DW
— Judith Sayers (@kekinusuqs) May 11, 2021
A statement from the BC RCMP says members of the Ucluelet RCMP “encountered a woman with a weapon” when they responded to a report of a disturbance and a male in need of medical assistance at a Hitacu residence around 5:12 p.m. on May 8.
“Shots were fired by the police officers. The woman suffered gunshot wounds and was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services,” the statement reads. “A male was also transported to hospital for treatment. No one else was physically injured in this incident.”
This marks the third time a Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation member has been shot by police in the past year. Chantel Moore, 26, was shot and killed during a wellness check in Edmundston, New Brunswick, on June 4, 2020. Julian Jones, 28, was shot and killed by Tofino RCMP in Opitsaht on Feb. 27, 2021.
“This shooting comes just three months after the fatal police shooting of Julian Jones, another Tla-o-qui-aht member, reaffirming the numerous calls by the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and Indigenous leaders across the country for substantial police reform to address the systemic racism and violence that is evidenced every time we have another Indigenous person shot by the police,” the May 11 statement reads.
“These calls have included the reallocation of police funding to support de-escalation and trauma informed services, the appointment of an Indigenous person to the IIO processes, and the implementation of First Nations-led police services and forces.”
The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Hereditary Chiefs and Elected Council say they are still waiting for the changes they asked for after the shooting of Chantel Moore.
“What will it take to make the tragedies stop? The use of lethal force by Canadian police forces against Indigenous peoples is a deadly epidemic in Canada,” said Lydia Hwitsum of the First Nations Summit Political Executive.
”The lack of action on implementing proposed solutions will only lead to more of our citizens being injured or dying. The time for police reform is now.”
BC Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief Terry Teegee said change is needed.
“The deadly cycle of violence is largely fuelled by systemic racism and we look to Canadian leadership to urgently make the transformative changes that will provide all people with protection of the right to life, liberty and security, and which will build stability to our society as a whole,” he said.
For more news from Vancouver Island and beyond delivered daily into your inbox, please click here.