New Brunswick premier won’t support Indigenous-led inquiry into systemic racism in policing 

‘We need to stop what is going on in our communities,’ says Roger Augustine.

Chiefs of the Wolastoqey First Nation and Mi’kmaq Nation met with the premier of New Brunswick but failed to convince Blaine Higgs that an inquiry into police racism in the province is necessary.

The video conference meeting happened after pressure from Indigenous leaders calling for an Indigenous-led inquiry into two high-profile fatal police shootings.

The meeting ended with no resolution how to move forward.

Roger Augustine, regional chief for New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island for the Assembly of First Nations, said answers are needed now.

“We need to stop what is going on in our communities, the shootings got to stop, our young people need to be protected and need to feel safe,” said Augustine.

The police shootings drew outrage, adding to tensions between police and Indigenous communities.

Chantel Moore was shot and killed on June 2 by an Edmundston police officer during a wellness check.

Rodney Levi was shot by New Brunswick RCMP on June 12 when police were called to a residence after reports were received about a man having knives.

In a statement released after Wednesday’s meeting, the Chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation said they raised concerns about systemic bias and racism against Indigenous people in the police and justice systems.

“We reiterated our call for an independent inquiry into these problems that would be Indigenous led and have tight timelines to ensure prompt action.”

On June 6, following Moore’s death, the Chiefs of the Wolastoqey Nation called for the province to review the police system to end discrimination

“We will be writing to the Minister of Public Safety and Minister of Justice to make this request.”

On June 10 they asked for an Indigenous-led inquiry to review systemic bias against Indigenous people in the policing system and rejected the claim that the provincial government was in dialogue with Indigenous leaders.

The Quebec police watchdog, Bureau des enquetes independants, is investigating both shootings.

Augustine said Indigenous input is the only way to move forward, but Higgs wouldn’t agree.

“All the chiefs are upset, they were very accommodating to the premier,” said Augustine.

He said it was time to take their appeal elsewhere.

“Let’s focus on the Assembly of First Nations and the federal government. I think that all our answers are there – today was an opportunity for the premier to come in and march with us and support us and that didn’t come.”

Video Journalist / Halifax

Angel Moore is a proud Cree from the Peguis First Nation in Manitoba. Angel grew up in Winnipeg and has a Journalism degree from the University of King’s College. She also has a degree from Dalhousie University in International Development Studies and Environmental Sustainability. Angel joined APTN News in June 2018 as the correspondent in the Halifax bureau and covers Atlantic Canada.