In my entire life, and I am not a young man, I have never seen an SQ (Sûreté du Québec) police officer who was not white. From my years growing up in Pontiac County to my present day life at Kitigan Zibi, I have yet to see the face of the Anishinabe, or that of any other person of colour (Black, Asian and others) on a provincial police officer for the Province of Québec. It seems to me that dark-skinned folks from a culture different than the Québecois are not very welcome among the ranks of the Québec police service. Something needs to be done about it.
Recently in New Brunswick, Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi were shot dead by RCMP officers. Both Chantel and Rodney were First Nations citizens. Finding themselves in a state of mental depression and in a state of severe anxiety was enough for white officers to end their lives with gunfire. If the deceased had been Caucasian, both would still be alive today. When it comes to policing in Canada, guns are too quickly unholstered by white officers who find themselves in tense situations with persons of colour. All too often, it doesn’t end well for people of colour.
I worked at a maximum security prison (Millhaven, J Unit) for 3 full years. A few months after I began working there, a 29 year old inmate was shot dead by a guard. The inmates told me later that of the 6 times leading up to the inmate’s killing where guns were fired by guards, 5 out of the 6 were at Indigenous inmates. “It’s racism! Some of them are just aching to kill us,” one of the inmates said of the guards.
COVID-19 has come down on us. People have taken ill and are dying across the country because of a deadly virus. The sickness though is not taking the lives of Indigenous people to the degree that the guns of white-skinned police officers are killing them. Police gunfire is a pandemic against us unto itself.
What needs to be explained to me is why is it that police services on reserves such as Kitigan Zibi have never killed one of their community’s members. Seldom is a gun pulled out of its holster by a Reserve police officer. De-escalation tactics are used on the Rez and when interaction between cops and citizens occur, no one ends up filled with lead. If Reserve police officers can do their work without shooting people to death, then why can’t coppers in Manitoba or New Brunswick do the same?
In my heart there is an ever-present spiritual mist. It lingers there until such a time where situations of life touch me in the emotional domain. The mist, at that time, travels from my heart to my eyes. It appeared there once again when I saw the face of Chantel Moore who came to her death through police gunfire. Chantel was not a dangerous enemy of the state. Her only crime was being Indigenous and suffering mental distress.