The Police in My Small Province in Canada Have Killed 2 Indigenous People in 9 Days

This is why Canada’s Aboriginal people are in mourning

I live in a small province in Atlantic Canada called New Brunswick. New Brunswick has a population of 776,827 people and borders on the state of Maine.

In New Brunswick, there are 15 Indigenous reservations that are home to approximately 10,000 Indigenious Canadian people.

In our small province, there have been two deadly incidents involving police and Indigenous people. In both cases, the Native civilians involved ended up dead.

There is a lack of reliable data on police-involved deaths and race in Canada. However, recent data assembled by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation shows that 14% of all police-involved deaths are Indigenous.

The Indigenous people of Canada are hurting right now because there have been 8 of their own killed by police nationwide since quarantine began.

Due to these incidents, relations between law enforcement and the Indigenous people are dissolving quickly and only drastic action will salvage this relationship.

There have been many cases of racial profiling and missing person cases not being properly investigated due to racial biases here in Canada.

Donald Trump may be an asshole but Prime Minister Trudeau seems to be full of empty promises when it comes to Canadian indigenous people and their rights.

The rest of the world sees him taking a knee to help bring attention to the Black lives matter movement: We see a publicity stunt. The man is obsessed with attention from the media and “looking good” to outsiders.

During his campaign, Justin Trudeau promised to protect Aboriginal land and after he was elected, he approved laws and projects that do the opposite.

Donald Trump is an “upfront asshole” and our Prime Minister is a “snake in the grass”.

We are not as pristine as the rest of the world thinks. Don’t get me wrong, we have free healthcare, beautiful countryside, and less of a crime rate than our neighbors.

Regardless of our positives, we still have a lot of work to do. Especially in regards to race relations with the Indigenous people of this country.

The stories of these three beautiful souls who were taken from us too soon are why we need to keep fighting for justice for the Aboriginal people of Canada.¹

Brady Francis

Brady Francis was a 22-year-old Mi’kmaq man from Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick. He loved to work at his job as a helper at his home reserve’s entertainment center. He was loved deeply by his friends and family.

On a cold winter night on February 24, 2018, Brady was walking along a road in Saint Charles, NB when 57-year-old Maurice Johnson hit Brady and left the scene.

Johnson was arrested and charged with failing to stop at the scene of an accident. During the hit-and-run trial, there were problems with a language barrier.

Maurice Johnson’s first language is french and he asked to be tried in the French language. During the trial, Brady’s family, who didn’t understand French, sat in a separate area with a Mi’kmaq interpreter.

However, the grieving family had to fight for that right. If Brady’s supporters and family hadn’t gone to the media, they would’ve been subject to a trial for their loved one’s death in a language they didn’t understand.

“To be sitting in a courtroom and everybody speaking in a language that we don’t understand, talking about one of our youth that got killed, was very saddening and very disappointing”

— Susan Levi-Peters, former chief of Elsipogtog First Nation

Levi-Peters lobbied for an in-person translator but the province provided a translator via live stream which meant they had to be in a separate room than the proceedings.²

Also, Brady’s family was forbidden from sitting in the courtroom when the vedict was announced due to COVID-19 restrictions, although many non-essential businesses were open at the time of the trial.

Maurice Johnson was fully acquitted in the hit-and-run death of Brady, even though he had no defense other than “I was sure what I hit was a deer and not a person”.

In her ruling, Justice Denise LeBlanc said the prosecution failed to convince her, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Johnson left the scene of the collision knowing he had struck a person instead of a deer.

Pamela Palmater, a Mi’kmaq activist and lawyer stated she was not surprised by the ruling:

“Indigenous people tend to be the victim in these cases and have no decision- making power. So you notice here they are not the judge. There are no Indigenous prosecutors. It wasn’t transmitted in their language. We’ve now come to expect that there’s going to be not guilty verdicts or charges aren’t even filed or cases aren’t even investigated. I mean this is a national problem.”

During the trial, Brady’s mother, Jessica Perley recalled arriving on the rural road and finding her son dead on the ground. “That’s my son ! That’s my son!” she remembered screaming.

The aftermath of Brady’s trial was brutal for his family, friends, and all Aboriginal people in Canada.

Brady’s family continued to fight for an appeal until they were told at the end on May 27, 2020, that the crown would not be retrying Maurice Johnson due to lack of evidence.

My thoughts are that something should’ve come from Brady’s untimely death, such as a law change. It should be mandatory for people to stop whenever they hit anything, animal or human. If the law stays as it is, this is just a way for people to get away with vehicular manslaughter.

“There’s no justice for First Nations people in Canada”

— Elsipogtog First Nation Chief Aaron Sock, after the verdict in Brady’s case was read.

Chantel Moore

Chantel Moore was a 26-year-old member of the Tla-o-qui-aht reserve in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. She recently moved to Edmunston, New Brunswick to be closer to her 5-year-old daughter.

She would never have the chance to enjoy the fresh start she worked so hard for.

On the night of June 4th, 2020, Chantel’s long-distance boyfriend called the Edmunston police department and asked them to do a wellness check on Chantel. She had been complaining to her boyfriend that someone was harassing her.

The lone police officer showed up to Chantel’s apartment and entered her home. Chantel had a knife and the officer shot her 5 times without attempting to use non-lethal force.

Chantel Moore, who was described as kind and bubbly, was under 100 pounds and a little over 5 feet tall.

Let that sink in: 5 shots for a woman smaller than most teenagers.

There is not a lot known about Chantel’s case due to the ongoing investigation. However, the Edmunston police have come under fire for the way Chantel’s “wellness check” was handled.

An investigation has begun through Quebec’s independent police investigation agency. Since New Brunswick is a very small province, it does not have its own agency to investigate incidents involving police.

The agency has said it won’t comment on Chantel’s case until their report is completed.

My friend Shawnee Polchies-Lanteigne is a strong Maliseet woman. This has been an incredibly hard week for her. Shawnee has been hurting for her people.

Chantel’s family came down from B.C and there have been healing walks scheduled all week in Chantel’s memory.

Shawnee has been attending some of these events in Chantel’s memory and had posted this status about what the walks mean to her people:

“Our Healing Walk should never be called a “protest”, this is not our traditional word, we instead use “Ikatomone”(eek-gut-moh-neh) which translates to “let’s guard” our way of life, our languages, our ceremonies, our rights to declare justice”

Rodney Levi

48-year-old Rodney Levi was a Mi’kmaq man like Brady Francis. He was the second victim of a police shooting of an Aboriginal person in 9 days.

Rodney was from a small Native reserve called Red Bank near Miramichi, New Brunswick. Rodney was a well-liked member of a local Pentecostal church. He had been having mental health issues and asked for treatment 2 days before his death and was denied.

This was an ongoing medical issue for 2 years.

“We kept taking him to the hospital, to the psych ward, they kept kicking him out, there’s nothing they could do for him. He took himself there, he threatened to harm himself and still they would never do anything”

-Rodney Levi’s sister, Linda Levi

On June 12, 2020, Rodney was invited to a BBQ at his pastor’s house. Around 7pm that evening, the Sunny Corner RCMP were called on Rodney. His sister Linda said he had become paranoid while visiting his friend.

It was stated by the RCMP that he had knives in his hands when he was shot. His sister Linda, who spoke to a witness after the shooting, told the Aboriginal People’s Television Network (APTN):

“He was tasered and he dropped the knife, then the RCMP shot him twice dead centre in the chest, in his heart and his lungs,”

Linda also mentioned that the doctor who fought to save Rodney’s life at the hospital told Rodney’s family that he died after the first shot was fired.³

The same police “watchdog” agency that is investigating Chantel’s death will also be investigating Rodney’s death.

“Rodney had the biggest heart, loved his family so much, he was a jokester and would never harm anyone” — Linda Levi

After these tragedies, many people have felt the need to talk about whether or not the cases of Rodney and Chantel were self-defense on the part of the police officers.

I have seen people say some pretty nasty things online. They just don’t get it. They don’t understand why this is so upsetting to the Native people of Canada.

This is not about bashing cops, this is about a broken system. My husband is in the military and I have a deep respect for law enforcement. However, when someone is out of line, they’re out of line.

“I know retired rcmp and have family who are police officers and they say: “It’s hard not to question it, I’ve been in those situations and didn’t kill anyone”. Which makes me so much more outraged and sad. They are fighting against the authority and that’s so scary”

-Shawnee Polchies-Lanteigne

In reality, it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about the incidents or the victims. What matters is that a whole demographic of people are terrified, angry, and questioning if they even matter because of what has happened to their people.

These are not isolated incidents, the First Nations people are exhausted and if you look at this list you will understand why:

  • The Sixties Scoop refers to a practice that occurred in Canada of taking, or “scooping up,” Indigenous children from their families and communities for placement in foster homes or adoption. Despite the reference to one decade, the Sixties Scoop began in the late 1950s and persisted into the 1980s. It is estimated that a total of 20,000 aboriginal children were taken from their families and fostered or adopted out to primarily white middle-class families as part of the Sixties Scoop.⁴
  • Residential schools: These were boarding schools ran by Christians (using that term loosely). These schools were created with the sole purpose of removing the Indigenous culture, destroying their languages, and making them assimilate to the “White” way of life. Over the course of the system’s more than hundred-year existence, about 30 percent of Indigenous children (around 150,000) were placed in residential schools nationally. The number of school-related deaths remains unknown due to an incomplete historical record, though estimates range from 3,200 to upwards of 6,000. The last residential school closed in 1996. ⁵
  • If you read my articles you know we have many missing and murdered Native women in Canada. There are an estimated 1000 missing Aboriginal men and women. There has yet to be any real action regarding this.
  • Countless Indigenous people in Thunder Bay, Ontario have been found dead since the early 2000s with little to no police investigation despite constant reports of racism being filed by Indigenous citizens.
  • Land and water resources have been taken from Native people for thousands of years. This is still happening in 2020.

My 7 nieces and nephews are from the Maliseet tribe and I can tell this week has been hard on them.

My niece posted this on her Facebook timeline yesterday:

If an officer ever shoots me. Please speak for me, please fight for me. If I go missing.. please don’t ever stop looking for me #justiceforchantel #justiceforrodney #justiceforbrady

It breaks my heart to see her so afraid. She has four children and I know she is scared of the discrimination they could potentially face if something doesn’t change.

We need to continue to talk openly and respectfully about racism and oppression. However, this situation is at a tipping point, and soon talking will no longer be a rational response.

It’s important to keep on having these discussions and showing that we all think that changes need to be made. Hopefully we can resolve this with a more peaceful approach than what’s happening in the states.

-Shawnee Polchies-Lanteigne

Not unlike the Black community, the Aboriginal community is exhausted and angry from dealing with oppression and racism for hundreds of years.

I hope you all rest up because I think our next hail storm of internet activism should be #Nativelivesmatter.

*A special thank you to my niece, Maggie May, and my special friend Shawnee for our conversations about Aboriginal issues.

*A portion of the proceeds from this article will go to a Canadian charity called “It starts with us” which helps fund several programs for Aboriginal youth.

[1] You will never hear me say “our Indigenous people” or “our missing Native women”. They are not “ours”, they were in Canada first and deserve more respect than to be paternalized.

[2] Elizabeth Fraser. [Aug 22, 2018]. Brady Francis’s community demands Mi’kmaq interpreter at hit-and-run trial
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/new-brunswick/elsipogtog-brady-francis-mi-kmaq-1.4794292

[3] Angel Moore. [June 13, 2020]. Sister says Rodney Levi, Mi’kmaw man shot and killed by N.B. RCMP, was a ‘jokester’ with the ‘biggest heart’. https://www.aptnnews.ca/national-news/sister-says-rodney-levi-mikmaw-man-shot-and-killed-by-n-b-rcmp-was-a-jokester-with-the-biggest-heart/

[4] Margaret Philip. [December 21, 2002]. The land of lost children. http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0212/gm021221a.htm

[5] John Paul Trasker. May 29, 2015. Residential schools findings point to ‘cultural genocide,’ commission chair says. https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/residential-schools-findings-point-to-cultural-genocide-commission-chair-says-1.3093580

Amy Cottreau is a freelance writer who hails from a small city in Atlantic Canada. She enjoys interacting with fellow writers, dreaming of ideas for her next article, and researching a myriad of topics.

If you enjoyed this story please visit my website “Raining on Darkness” where I discuss hoaxes, true crime cases, and unresolved mysteries!

Wife, mother, and researcher of a myriad of subjects. I love to write about anything and everything! Writer for The Startup, Better Marketing, & The Ascent👊