Almost one year after Chantel Moore’s death at the hands of police in Edmundston, New Brunswick, her family is still looking for answers.
Members of Moore’s family—as well as other First Nations from the West Coast and Port Alberni—joined together in Port Alberni on Wednesday, May 5 to mark Red Dress Day, honouring and remembering Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG).
A small group sang, drummed and walked up and down Third Avenue in Port Alberni, dressed in red and yellow, before gathering at the Walmart parking lot. People carried signs for Chantel Moore and for Julian Jones, a 28-year-old Tla-o-qui-aht man who was shot and killed by RCMP in Tofino earlier this year.
The colour yellow, said organizer Nora Martin of Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, was because Chantel Moore would often tell friends and family to “stay golden.”
In the early morning hours of June 4, 2020, Moore was fatally shot by a police officer at her residence in Edmundston, New Brunswick during a wellness check. Edmundston police have stated that Moore was holding a knife and making threats, but Moore’s family has questioned the use of force in her death.
Martin is Moore’s great-aunt, but says she considers Moore her granddaughter in her Tla-o-qui-aht culture.
“We lost Chantel last June and we still don’t have the report [into her death],” said Martin. “Today it’s really scary for us to even go outside. We don’t know if we’re going to be next. Some people are scared to call the police.”
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council (NTC) has stated that there are 53 Nuu-chah-nulth woman who have been murdered or died a “suspicious” death. One woman who is still missing is Lisa Marie Young.
A recent report from Statistics Canada, conducted over a 14-year period, says that the rate of homicide for Indigenous women is six times higher than non-Indigenous women.
Martin says she is frustrated by the lack of answers.
“We’re dying in numbers,” said Martin. “Why aren’t there more people screaming out? We’ve written letters, but don’t get any response from our leaders. There’s a lot of frustration and anger building up in our people.”
After walking along Third Avenue, the group gathered at the Walmart parking lot in Port Alberni to sing a few songs. The morning had also started with a ceremony at Sutton Pass to bless the red dresses that are hanging just before the Tofino-Ucluelet Highway 4 junction.
The event was meant to raise awareness of MMIWG, but Martin said it was also a way of healing.
“We started preparing for this a few weeks ago,” she said. “It has brought healing for us.”