Rally in downtown Montreal calls for defunding police, but on Indigenous people's behalf
MONTREAL -- Nine Indigenous people have died at the hands of police in Canada since the beginning of April, and a rally in downtown Montreal today asked people to pay attention to that growing number.
Some who attended also said they were still annoyed by the way Quebec Premier François Legault has stuck to his assertion that there’s no systemic racism in Canada.
When it comes to fatal police shootings, “people say it’s not a problem in Canada, but it actually really is,” said Nicole Janis Qavavauq-Bibeau, one woman who attended.
“We need to show that it does exist here also.”
The mounting recent toll of Indigenous people’s deaths happens to coincide with the Black Lives Matter protests, and protesters said they share a main goal with that movement—they want to see the police defunded and money redistributed to people who work with First Nations instead.
“There’s really no reason for police to kill somebody when they’re having a crisis,” said Jessica Quijano, the coordinator of the Iskweu Project.
One of the highest-profile recent deaths was that of Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old mother who was shot and killed by local police in Edmunston, New Brunswick, when they arrived to do a “wellness check” on her during a mental health crisis.
At the Montreal protest, people spoke about how Indigenous people in Canada are 10 times more likely than other Canadians to be shot and killed by police.
“It’s not open season on Indigenous people,’ said Nakuset, the executive director of the Native Women's Shelter of Montreal.
“You can’t keep hurting us… You can’t keep shooting us and getting away with it.”
The COVID-19 crisis hasn’t been easy for some Indigenous people in Montreal, as many services have shut down.
Quarantine means that domestic violence has been up as well. “There’s been a lot of not safe places,” said Quijano.