Chantel Moore’s family is asking people to refocus their attention after someone pouring liquid on Victoria’s police chief took the focus away from the real importance of Saturday’s memorial event.
“The event on Sept. 18 was to honour and call for justice for Chantel Moore and a number of families who have lost their loved ones or faced violence and brutality from police and RCMP in Canada,” Moore’s uncle Hjalmer Wenstob said in a video statement on behalf of the family and in conjunction with Victoria Police Chief Del Manak, Sunday (Sept. 19) night.
Moore, an Indigenous woman, was fatally shot by a police officer in Edmundston, N.B. during a wellness check on June 4, 2020. No criminal charges have been laid against the officer.
Since then, Moore’s mother, Martha Martin, and her family have been calling for changes to policing across the country, including mandatory police body cameras, more training and civilian support on mental health calls, better independent oversight, and taking officers who discharge a gun off duty until they’ve been cleared.
Martin invited Manak to attend and speak at Saturday’s event in the hopes of breaking down barriers and starting to work together towards those goals, Wenstob said. But, after Manak had finished speaking, a group of people not connected with the event and not related to Moore’s family, approached the chief and poured a cup of liquid on him. The event, Wenstob said, was immediately halted while Moore’s family brought Manak on stage to apologize to him and call out the incident.
“This act and any act similar moves us in the wrong direction and is something we will note condone,” Wenstob said. But, he noted, the act should not have defined the event.
“Songs, prayers and stories were shared, tears and pain were shed, and the start of important work was done,” Wenstob said.
The family was dismayed when they returned home to see Victoria Police Department’s press release, and subsequent media coverage, focused not on that important work, but on the liquid being poured on the police chief.
“We cannot stand idly by and see the good work that has been done taken advantage of to create further division,” Wenstob said.
Speaking in the same video statement, Manak thanked people for their care and concern for him, but agreed that the focus needs to return to Chantel Moore. He said he was honoured to have been invited to the event and will continue to work with Moore’s family.
Five people were taken into custody following the incident, but have since been released and no charges have been laid at this time.
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