A mother of two from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island was shot and injured by RCMP on Mother’s Day weekend and remained in critical condition Tuesday.
The female victim was the third of the 1,150-member band to be shot by police in the past 11 months, the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) said in a news release.
“On May 8th, a Tla-o-qui-aht mother of two was shot by the RCMP after they responded to a call for help,” UBCIC said in a release.
The release did not provide further details about the victim or police-involved shooting, which will now be handled by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia (IIOBC). The civilian agency investigates all police incidents resulting in serious harm or death.
Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin said his community was devastated.
“Needless to say, we are experiencing heavy trauma and shock,” he said in the release.
“We are frustrated that we are being told to wait for the investigation, which could take months. We will be seeking support for the family and we will also be seeking interim measures with the RCMP and the IIOBC.”
The RCMP said officers from the Ucluelet detachment responded to a call of a disturbance and a male needing medical assistance around 5 p.m. on May 8 when they encountered a woman with a weapon.
He said in a release shots were fired and the woman was taken to hospital with gunshot wounds. A man was also taken to hospital for treatment.
“The initial incident is being investigated by Island District General Investigative Services in assistance to Ucluelet RCMP,” said RCMP spokesperson Staff-Sgt. Janelle Shoihet in a release.
“IIO BC has been notified and are conducting an concurrent investigation to the actions of the police. As the matter is now under investigation by the IIO BC, no further information will be released by police.”
The IIOBC confirmed in a separate release it was investigating an officer-involved shooting in Ucluelet, B.C.
This shooting comes just three months after the fatal police shooting of 28-year-old Julian Jones, a Tla-o-qui-aht man, who was killed Feb. 27 when police responded to a report of a woman being held against her will in a small community near Tofino.
Nearly a year ago, Tla-o-qui-aht member Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot during a police wellness check in Edmundston, N.B.
Both shootings threw a spotlight on police use of deadly force and the role racism may have played in the fatalities.
B.C.’s larger Nuu-chah-nulth Nation and Indigenous leaders across the country called for reforms “to address the systemic racism and violence that is evidenced every time we have another Indigenous person shot by the police,” noted the UBCIC release.
“These calls have included the reallocation of police funding to support de-escalation and trauma informed services, the appointment of an Indigenous person to the IIO processes, and the implementation of First Nations-led police services and forces.”
Indigenous civilian monitor
After Jones was shot, the IIOBC announced it would appoint an Indigenous civilian monitor to the investigation.
“In the interest of a fully transparent investigation, the IIOBC commits to making the monitor’s final report available to the public,” another IIOBC statement said.
Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation hereditary chiefs and elected council issued their own statement demanding changes to the justice system following the shooting of Moore by an Edmundston police officer on June 4, 2020.
They say they are still waiting for the changes they asked for.