BC Assembly of First Nations: End of systemic racism and oppression is long overdue

BCAFN Regional Chief Terry Teegee issued the following statement on racialized police brutality on Tuesday:

BC Assembly of First Nations (BCAFN) stands in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and we express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Black, Indigenous, and other minority individuals who have been killed at the hands of the police. We remember two black citizens who recently died under direct police involvement: George Floyd from Minneapolis, MN, and Regis Korchinski-Paquet from Toronto, Ont. We also recognize and remember the lives of Indigenous people who also recently died under police jurisdiction or actions, Dale Culver (2017) and Everett Patrick (2020) in Prince George, BC, and another three Indigenous people in Winnipeg, MB: Eishia Hudson, Jason Collins and Stewart Kevin Andrews, who were killed by Winnipeg police.

“Police forces in Canada and the United States have a long history of being instrumental in enforcing colonial law and order to eradicate Indigenous peoples, and control people of colour, and other minorities. Authorities utilized genocidal laws and policies such as forced displacement and assimilation tactics. Indigenous families were torn apart by the apprehension of children to submit them to the residential school system, and they continue to suffer from this trauma. Significant attention is being placed on the United States of America’s judicial system; however, Canada cannot claim moral superiority in this area. Our nation too needs justice reform in order to end systemic racism towards minorities.

“The BCAFN calls on the government of Canada to co-develop a National First Nations Justice Strategy in order to address the disproportionate rate of incarceration, and police-involved deaths and injuries of Indigenous peoples in Canada. In addition, we insist the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada push forward the release and implementation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2-Spirited People Action Plan, rather than delay it as recently announced. Further delay of this Action Plan is ethically irresponsible.

“The BCAFN also calls on the Crown to pursue charges against five police officers involved in the in-custody death of Dale Culver in Prince George in 2017, as is recommended by the Independent Investigation Office (IIO). Additionally, we urge the IIO to expedite the investigation into the in-custody death of Everett Patrick.

“Justice reform is urgently needed to protect racialized people’s lives; police brutality must stop. The end of systemic racism and oppression is long overdue.”