Inquest Rules Indigenous Woman’s Police Shooting As Homicide

The death of a 26-year-old Indigenous woman in northern New Brunswick in 2020 has been ruled a homicide after a four-day coroner’s inquest.

Chantel Moore, of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, was shot outside her apartment by a member of the Edmundston Police Force during a wellness check in the early morning hours of June 4, 2020.

An investigation last year by Quebec’s police watchdog concluded that the shooting took place after Moore approached Const. Jeremy Son with a knife in her hand. Moore was asked in French to drop the knife before being shot by Son four times.

“Officer Son was imminently at risk of grievous harm or death at the point he started shooting,” said Chris Butler, an expert in Canadian policing and final witness. “Const. Son’s use of lethal force in this situation was consistent with police training.”

Moore’s mother, Martha Martin, told reporters on Thursday the past week had been difficult for her.

“You hear all the details leading up to the death of your child, I wouldn’t wish that on anybody,” she said.

“You hear the details to when their very last breath was taken.”

The six chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation in New Brunswick issued a statement Thursday, saying the inquest demonstrates an urgent need for an Indigenous-led inquiry into systemic racism.

They say the jury’s findings and recommendations do not address the serious nature of the tragedy or the systemic issues embedded in the justice system.

“I want to honour the strength and perseverance of Chantel Moore’s family, not only this week but in their pursuit of justice,” said Chief Allan “Chicky” Polchies Jr. of Sitansisk (St. Mary’s First Nation).

“As a leader of my community, I take the words of Martha Martin, Chantel’s mother, very seriously and I agree with her: bold change is necessary.”