A shutdown of the Canso Causeway is planned Sunday evening to raise awareness for missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, two-spirit and LGBTQ people, and Indigenous men and boys.
Event organizer Annie Bernard-Daisley, the president of the Nova Scotia Native Women’s Association, said the catalyst was Chantel Moore, an Indigenous woman who was fatally shot by police in June.
“We’re here for Chantel, definitely, 100 per cent,” said Bernard-Daisley. “And alongside with Chantel, we have thousands upon thousands of murdered Indigenous women and girls, and we don’t even know how many men.
“And we’re marching for all of them. Chantel’s going to lead the way.”
Bernard-Daisley also has a personal connection to the issue. Her cousin, Cassidy Bernard, was murdered in 2018.
Sunday’s march will take place between 6 and 8 p.m. Sunday at the Canso Causeway. Bernard-Daisley said the causeway is significant because it links mainland Nova Scotia to Unama’ki (Cape Breton).
“Honestly, we know that there’s going to be notice on it, there’s going to be attention on it, and they’re going to wonder why we’re doing it,” said Bernard-Daisley.
“And the more people know, in this country, what we’re facing as Indigenous people, the better.”
Participants are asked to wear red, for missing and murdered Indigenous women, or yellow, Moore’s favourite colour.
Lack of accountability
Moore, 26, was shot and killed by police at her home in New Brunswick during a wellness check in June.
Police have said Moore left her apartment and came at an Edmundston Police Force officer with a knife. The officer then shot her.
The incident — along with the police shooting death of Rodney Levi just over a week later — has raised many questions about the circumstances surrounding their deaths and about police de-escalation practices.
Recently, complaints have been filed with the New Brunswick Police Commission about the conduct of Edmundston Police Force officers during and in the aftermath of Moore’s killing.
In addition to awareness, Sunday’s march also came out of frustration for a lack of action and accountability when it comes to violence against Indigenous people.
Bernard-Daisley said she’s upset that in Moore’s case the circumstances surrounding her death will be investigated by the bureau des enquêtes indépendantes (BEI), Quebec’s police watchdog agency.
She noted that BEI has never laid a criminal charge against a police officer in relation to a police killing.
“At the end of the day, the Quebec body has never, ever ruled in the victim’s favour,” she said.
BEI is also investigating Levi’s death.
Hope is to ‘live in a world where we’re treated as equals’
A CBC analysis spanning 20 years of data found that Indigenous people are overrepresented in police deaths.
Bernard-Daisley hopes Sunday’s march will shine a light on the many issues Indigenous people face in Canada.
“We stand up alongside with all nations, and I hope all nations stand up alongside with us, too,” she said.
“All we’re hoping for, at the end of the day, is to live in a world where we’re treated as equals. That’s it. How hard is that?”
The Department of Transportation has confirmed they are “aware of a planned peaceful protest” at the Canso Causeway.
“We will work [with] the RCMP to help ensure public safety,” spokesperson Gary Andrea said in an email.
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