More than 100 people gathered at a vigil near Port Alberni on Thursday night to remember the life of a Tla-o-qui-aht woman who lost her life at the hands of police.
Chantel Moore, who used to reside in Port Alberni, was fatally shot by police in Edmundston, New Brunswick in the early morning hours on Thursday, June 4 after officers were called to check on her wellbeing.
The Edmundston Police Force has stated that Moore was holding a knife and making threats.
Moore’s family has stated that Moore was shot five times, although this detail has not been confirmed by police.
The vigil on Thursday evening, which took place at Haahuupayak School, was organized by Myra Mack of Tseshaht First Nation.
“I never knew her personally, but she was a friend to many,” Mack explained.
Aaron Watts of Tseshaht First Nation opened the vigil by offering his condolences for Chantel’s family.
“All of Tseshaht is grieving with you,” he said on Thursday.
This is the second evening in a row that Tseshaht First Nation has gathered for songs and healing. On Wednesday, the community came together to offer forgiveness after an incident of racism that targeted First Nations on the Tseshaht reserve.
“I like the way we’ve been practicing,” said Watts. “In the face of ugliness, we come together. In the face of sorrow, we come together. This is true medicine, what we have right here.”
Members of multiple Nuu-chah-nulth nations came together to share songs and prayers throughout the evening. They also shared their experiences of racism. Moore’s death takes place at a time when people across Canada and the United States are taking to the streets to protest racism and police brutality.
“We’re fighting for our rights, we’re fighting for our freedom,” said Watts. “We’re fighting for the right to be equal. We’re now in a place where our people are literally dying at alarming rates.”
Martin Watts, another member of Tseshaht First Nation, explained that Moore had moved to Port Alberni from Campbell River to “make a better life for herself” and make new friends.
“And look how many friends she made,” he said, gesturing to the crowd.
He explained that Moore had moved again to New Brunswick to be with her five-year-old daughter, Gracie, and her mother.
A donation box at the vigil raised more than $1,000 for Moore’s Tla-o-qui-aht family, some of whom are planning to travel to New Brunswick to practice traditional Nuu-chah-nulth grieving protocols. A GoFundMe had raised more than $40,000 as of Thursday night.
“They still need a little bit of help,” said Martin Watts. “So share that GoFundMe, help where you can. Show support, show the love, let people know you care for them.”
The Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council released a statement on Thursday, calling for immediate action in an independent investigation.
“The family and community of Chantal needs answers as to why she was shot on a health check by the police,” stated the release. “Justice must not wait and every power must be exerted to ensure that justice is served in an appropriate, immediate, and respectful way.”