A prominent B.C. First Nations leader is calling for “massive change” after police shot an Indigenous woman multiple times on Vancouver Island Saturday in the third such incident for her community in less than a year.
“We need to find solutions now. Is it lack of police training in de-escalation? We don’t know that. Is it racism? We don’t know that…We have so few facts, but what we do know is we have to stop these shootings now, today,” Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council president Dr. Judith Sayers told Black Press Media in the wake of the shooting in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu.
A B.C. RCMP statement indicated that Ucluelet RCMP officers received a report of a disturbance and a male in need of medical assistance on May 8 around 5:12 p.m.
“Responding officers entered the home and encountered a woman with a weapon. Shots were fired by the police officers. The woman suffered gunshot wounds and was transported to hospital by BC Emergency Health Services,” the statement reads. “A male was also transported to hospital for treatment. No one else was physically injured in this incident.”
In a post to its Facebook page on May 8, The Ucluelet First Nation government advised that a serious incident had occurred in the community.
“Full details are currently under investigation. A statement for public information will be issued when complete details have been provided. There have been no fatalities, nor life-threatening injuries to those involved,” the post reads.
Police say the shooting is being investigated by the Island District General Investigative Services and the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.
This is the third time in the past year that a Nuu-chah-nulth member has been shot by police. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation woman Chantel Moore, 26, was shot and killed by police during a wellness check in Edmundston, New Brunswick, on June 4, 2020. Julian Jones, 28, was shot and killed by RCMP in the Tla-o-qui-aht community of Opitsaht on Feb. 27, 2021.
Sayers said that she and Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council vice president Mariah Charleson have met with the B.C. RCMP and provincial leadership to propose changes to the B.C. Police Act.
“Ever since last June when (Chantel Moore) was shot, we have been working on elevating the issues of police shootings, wellness checks and working with communities as much as we can,” she said, adding that NTC leadership met with B.C. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan after the shooting of Julian Jones.
“We formed a committee to start looking at ways that we can work together and try to stop these shootings. One of the core objectives for us is to stop these shootings, so I’m pretty shocked and appalled that we had another shooting on Saturday afternoon.”
She said she had spoken with the IIO on Monday morning and planned to speak with RCMP leadership that afternoon.
“We definitely have a huge concern as Nuu-chah-nulth as to what is happening with police…We’re not letting this go by any means,” she said.
“Our communities are devastated and they’re worried about are they in danger of RCMP coming onto the reserve and shooting them. The impacts of these shootings is just reverberating amongst all the members. We have to do something and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to find the best way forward while they’re doing the investigations to find out what really went on…We need to get to the root of what is actually happening with the RCMP and our communities.”
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