Tag Archives: Police Shooting

Why are Indigenous people in Canada so much more likely to be shot and killed by police?

Chantel Moore’s mother Martha Martin, centre, participates in a healing walk from the Madawaska Malaseet reserve to Edmundston’s town square honour Moore in Edmundston, N.B. on Saturday June 13, 2020. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Stephen MacGillivray)

An Indigenous person in Canada is more than 10 times more likely to have been shot and killed by a police officer in Canada since 2017 than a white person in Canada.

A CTV News analysis reveals that of the 66 people shot and killed by police in that time frame for whom race or heritage could be identified, 25 were Indigenous.

That’s nearly 40 per cent of the total. Adjusted for population based on 2016 census data, it means 1.5 out of every 100,000 Indigenous Canadians have been shot and killed by police since 2017, versus 0.13 out of every 100,000 white Canadians.

“It’s totally alarming,” Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde told CTVNews.ca via telephone from Ottawa on June 17.

“This is not acceptable, it’s not right in 2020, but the trends are there.”

The disparity doesn’t stop there. Citing Statistics Canada data and various academic studies, a 2019 report from the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) found several other ways in which the Canadian justice system disproportionately targets Indigenous Canadians, including:

  • Indigenous Canadians are 11 times more likely than non-Indigenous Canadians to be accused of homicide
  • Indigenous Canadians are 56 per cent more likely to be victims of crime than other Canadians
  • In 2016, Indigenous Canadians represented 25 per cent of the national male prison population and 35 per cent of the national female prison population

“Why is it that we’re 4.5 per cent of the population in Canada as First Nations people, but yet the jails are full of our people?” Bellegarde said.

Those who study the intersection of Indigenous Canadians and Canadian-style policing say the answer to that question cannot be found in what happens as cases make their way through the criminal justice system. Nor can it be found in what happens after police arrive at the scene of an incident, or in what happens as officers are dispatched.

The issues that lead to Indigenous Canadians facing overrepresentation in the Canadian justice system have roots that stretch years, decades, even generations into the past, experts say – and will never be addressed if attention isn’t paid to injustices in other parts of the system.

“The conversation needs to be about systemic racism, and the continued colonial constructs that set up too many of these highly dangerous encounters,” Norm Taylor, an executive adviser who has worked with police leaders and provincial governments on issues related to community safety, told CTVNews.ca via telephone from Oshawa, Ont. on June 17.


Taylor was one of the 11 experts on policing in Indigenous communities who put together the CCA report, which found that the current Indigenous overrepresentations in the justice system are directly linked to historical mistreatment of Indigenous peoples.

They’re also tied to the worse outcomes faced by Indigenous Canadians when it comes to poverty, mental health, addictions and other socioeconomic factors that are considered risk factors for negative encounters with the justice system.

“If you look at your sample, in the vast majority of those cases, you’re going to find … they’re people with a host of risk factors operating, and the system has failed them,” Taylor said.

“In many instances, the subject will hold similar contempt for the health-care system, child welfare, schools and any other elements of the state-run human services, because the system has not served them well. It has not served their families well.”

The CCA report also concluded that moving away from these approaches and improving Indigenous health and well-being can best be achieved by adapting policing approaches to meet the needs of Indigenous communities, focusing on relationships and building trust rather than law enforcement.

Many of these themes are echoed in the recommendations in the 2019 report from the inquiry examining the cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, which are aimed at adding new mechanisms to ensure policing agencies meet the needs of the communities they serve.

These ideas may sound prescient now, as calls to defund the police gather steam across North America, but they’re hardly new. Academics and Indigenous leaders have been touting them for decades, and many police leaders have more recently followed suit.

“Officers are doing the job that is asked, and often they’re doing it under difficult and high-risk circumstances,” Taylor said.

“One of the questions we have to be asking is ‘Is it the job they should be doing? Are they adequately prepared to deal with all the intercultural mistrust? Do they even have the skills to provide a trauma-informed perspective?'”


Advice along these lines – which Taylor describes as “more about public health than … about policing” can be found in report after report after report presented to governments going back to the last century. While some parts of the country have slowly been moving in this direction, Bellegarde said the continued deaths of Indigenous Canadians at the hands of police are proof that much more needs to be done.

“The complacency of governments for lack of implementation of these reports and the recommendations therein is killing our people,” he said.

Specific starting points for action could include making policing an essential service on reserves, guaranteeing stable funding levels for community leaders to rely on, Bellegarde said, as well as creating civilian police oversight bodies for communities that use the RCMP, increased screening for racial biases during the recruitment process, adding more Indigenous representation in positions of authorities and potentially redirecting some police funding to dedicated mental health response teams.

Although pushing for these changes has long been an exercise in frustration, Bellegarde said he is hopeful that the current wave of protests for justice reform will bear fruit.

“We have to take advantage of the groundswell of support. We have to keep pushing harder,” he said.

By Ryan Flanagan, CTVNews.ca, published Friday, June 19, 2020


Deaths of 2 Cree people during interactions with Timmins police under investigation

A vigil was held Tuesday in Timmins for 21-year-old Joey Knapaysweet of Fort Albany First Nation near the spot on Gillies Lake where he was shot by police on Saturday. (Facebook)

The province’s Special Investigations Unit is investigating both incidents

The mayor of Timmins is calling for calm after two Cree people were killed over the weekend following altercations with city police.

A 21-year-old man was shot dead by police near Gillies Lake, while a 62-year-old woman died after being detained in a jail cell.

Numerous sources, including Timmins-James Bay MP Charlie Angus, have identified them as Joey Knapaysweet and Agnes Sutherland, both of Fort Albany First Nation.

Little is being said officially about the deaths as they are now under investigation by the province’s Special Investigations Unit or SIU, which looks into any serious incidents involving police.

Timmins mayor Steve Black is calling for citizens to refrain from making comments about the two Indigenous people killed over the weekend and about the city’s police force until the investigation is concluded. (ici.radio-canada.ca)

But Timmins Mayor Steve Black thinks too much is being said about these incidents in his city and called for calm at the start of Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

​”I would encourage our community to please refrain from some of the comments that are being made towards the individual and the family that are not appropriate and racist in some regard in social media circles and definitely inappropriate for a time like this,” Black said.

“And some of the comments towards our police, I believe. We should wait for the investigation to take its course and hear from the SIU.”

Mushkegowuk Grand Chief Jonathan Solomon (Erik White/CBC)

The deaths have overshadowed the emergency summit being held in Timmins by the Mushkegowuk Council this week.

The regional James Bay government declared a state of emergency in November, worried about a tide of drugs and alcohol coming into it’s seven member communities.

Grand Chief Johnathan Solomon says there has been sense of optimism at the summit, that all the communities, the three levels of government, police and health partners will work together to find solutions.

“There’s a lot of unison in regards to working together and people are, like I said, have optimism that we can do this. We can become a healthy nation, healthy communities with health families,” Solomon said.

“I know that we won’t be able to stop it but someway, somehow we’ve got to find a way to decrease the flow of illicit drugs into our communities.”

CBC News Posted: Feb 07, 2018


Murder Suspect Dead after Police Shooting on Stoney Nakoda First Nation

Lorenzo Bearspaw, 27, on left and Deangelo Powderface, 22, on right.

Lorenzo Bearspaw, 27, on left and Deangelo Powderface, 22, on right.

Calgary Sun | Jan 08, 2017

Mounties shot and killed a man wanted in a murder investigation after an attempted arrest turned violent, RCMP brass said Sunday.

While executing an arrest warrant Saturday afternoon on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation west of Calgary, RCMP said one suspect was arrested without incident, but shots were fired after “the second suspect engaged police.”

Ralph Stephens, 27, was rushed to hospital and police said he succumbed to his injuries about an hour after the incident.

Chief Supt. Tony Hamori said the body of Lorenzo Bearspaw, 27, was found Friday afternoon on the Morley reserve after his sister reported him missing last Tuesday.

After the discovery of Bearspaw’s body, Hamori said they released Canada-wide arrest warrants for John Stephens, the 29-year-old brother of the man shot by police, and Deangelo Powderface, 22, for the murder of Bearspaw.

RCMP arrived at a residence on the reserve about 4 p.m., where Hamori said there were a number of people present, including the Stephens brothers.

Hamori, speaking the media Sunday, said the fact two people have died is tragic.

“I want to express our condolences to the families during this very difficult time,” he said.

“I want to urge patience by the community and the public while these investigations take place.”

Hamori declined to give details about what actions prompted RCMP to open fire, noting the investigation is now in the hands of the Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).

Powderface evaded police but turned himself in to Cochrane RCMP on Sunday night and police are no longer looking for anyone in connection to the murder of Bearspaw.

Bearspaw’s sister Kristia Bearspaw-Snow, reached by Postmedia Sunday, had little to say about her brother’s death.

“I’m hanging in there,” she said, declining to comment further.

ASIRT is now probing the police shooting while the murder of Bearspaw remains under investigation by RCMP. The Alberta police watchdog didn’t respond to requests for comment Sunday.

Bearspaw himself has had a history with police, including a 2014 arrest by Calgary police in connection with the theft of a police cruiser and impaired operation of a motor vehicle. Last seen Jan. 1 following a New Year’s Eve party, Bearspaw was reported missing by family last week.

The officer involved in the shooting is currently off active duty, and RCMP said they won’t release any more details on the murder of Bearspaw while the investigation is ongoing.

John Stephens remains in custody and is facing charges of first-degree murder in connection with Bearspaw’s death.


Lac-Simon Victim’s Brother Was Also Fatally Shot By Police

Sandy Michel, seen here in a photo posted to his Facebook page, was fatally shot by police on Wednesday in Lac-Simon, Que. His brother died in similar circumstances. (Facebook)

Sandy Michel, seen here in a photo posted to his Facebook page, was fatally shot by police on Wednesday in Lac-Simon, Que. His brother died in similar circumstances. (Facebook)

CBC News Posted: Apr 08, 2016

Montreal police take over investigation in small Algonquin community

The brother of Sandy Tarzan Michel, the 25-year-old father of three killed by police in Lac-Simon, Que., this week, died in similar circumstances several years ago.

“We are living with our pain,” Judith Brazeau, the partner of Michel’s father, said.

Family members confirmed to CBC News that Johnny Jr. Michel Dumont was also killed during a police operation in the small Algonquin community, located just south of Val-d’Or, in 2009.

He was shot by police while allegedly holding a knife.

On Wednesday evening, the Anishnabe Takonewini Police Service responded to a report of a man with a knife or another bladed weapon walking in the street.

Michel died during the altercation, leading several dozen people to confront local police. The provincial police force,  Sûreté du Québec, was called for backup and three men were arrested for uttering threats.

Montreal police have taken over the investigation.

Family grieves, community marches

Michel’s family said it is leaning on the support of the small community after losing two loved ones in a similar manner.

Brazeau said many people have reached out over the last two days.

“We help each other a lot,” Brazeau said. “If someone is hurting, there is always someone there.”

About 100 people marched Friday afternoon to protest the circumstances surrounding Michel’s death in the April 6 shooting.

Many said they believe that drugs and alcohol are the root of the community’s problems and led to Michel’s death.

Council members in Lac-Simon have banned the sale of alcohol in the community at least until Monday, April 10.

“The situation will then be re-evaluated,” read a notice by the Anishnabe Nation of Lac-Simon.

A second protest will take place in Montreal next week.

Two months ago, a member of the Anishnabe Takonewini Police Service was fatally shot on duty.

Thierry Leroux was shot and killed during a domestic dispute call.

The person who shot Leroux then committed suicide.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees, which represents police officers on the Lac-Simon force, issued a statement Thursday calling for more resources and raising concern about a “public security crisis” in the community.

The local health centre has set up a crisis unit to work with residents.

About 1,200 people live in Lac-Simon, which is 500 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

With files from The Canadian Press


Denver Police Tell Lies About Fatal Shooting Of Native American Paul Castaway

Paul Castaway left, a citizen of the Lakota Nation, was shot and killed by police on July 12. Photo courtesy Facebook.com

By Black Powder / Red Power Media

Denver police caught telling key lies about their fatal shooting of Paul Castaway.

On Sunday, July 12th, Castaway, a 35-year-old Native American, was brutally shot and killed by police.

Castaway’s mother, Lynn Eagle Feather, says she called the police for help after her son threatened her with a knife, telling cops he was mentally ill.

Police Chief Robert White said at a news conference after the shooting that investigators believed Castaway had stabbed his mother in the neck before he was killed.

Police allege Castaway charged at them with the knife.


Paul Castaway, a 35-year-old Native American, was shot and killed by Denver police on July 12th, 2015.

This much we know:

“He didn’t stab me in the neck. He was drunk. I told the cops he was mentally ill. He was schizophrenic. I called for help. I didn’t call for them to kill him,” Eagle Feather said.

Her son ran toward Capitol City mobile home park across the street.

“All of a sudden, I heard rapid gunfire. Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom. One right after the other,” she said.

Speaking to Indian Country Today, Eagle Feather said the police shooting was racially motivated.

“I want justice for my son. I want those cops to be reprimanded. These Denver cops love to kill Natives. They love to kill people of color here,” she told Indian Country Today.

Immediately after the shooting, though, police began telling lies about what happened.

First off, we have this.

It never happened.

Video: Mother of Paul Castaway tells what really happened at a Press Conference.

It was reported that police had said that “Castaway had stabbed his mother in her neck” but the wording was later changes to “he had threatened her with the knife.”

The family of Castaway, protests outside Denver police headquarters. 

Castaway’s family gathered outside Denver Police Department headquarters early last Tuesday, evening to protest the shooting.

Afterward, a group of about 40 protesters marched from the station, along the 16th Street Mall to Union Station. Two protesters were arrested, police said: One woman for failure to obey a lawful order and one man for interference/pedestrian in a roadway.

DENVER, CO - Brenda Carrasco, friend of Paul Castaway, pleads the family's case to officers during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at Union Station in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

Brenda Carrasco, friend of Paul Castaway, pleads the family’s case to officers during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 at Union Station in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

DENVER, CO - Police arrest a protester while moving protesters back during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 along the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

Police arrest a protester while moving protesters back during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 along the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)

Surveillance video conflicts information in deadly shooting.

The manager of Capital City mobile home park at 4501 W. Kentucky Ave. has the video. He wouldn’t give it to FOX31 Denver, but he did show it to reporter Tammy Vigil.

Eyewitnesses at the mobile-home park where the incident occurred contradicted the police account and alleged instead that Castaway was holding the knife to his own neck.

The video reviewed by the reporter appears to back up those witnesses.Video: Surveillance Video Conflicts Information in Paul Castaway police shooting

“It shows [Castaway] coming up from behind a white mobile home, through a black iron fence onto the street and around a wooden fence, which is a dead end,” writes Tammy Vigil, the KDVR reporter who viewed the recording. “He then turned back around onto the street with a knife to his neck the whole time, when an officer shoots him.”

“The video,” she wrote, “seems to not match what police say happened.”

"DENVER, CO - July 14: Thomas Morado, causing of Paul Castaway, leads the march during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 along the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)"

July 14th, Thomas Morado, cousin of Paul Castaway, leads the march during a protest about the police involved shooting of Paul Castaway on Tuesday, July 14, 2015 along the 16th Street Mall in Denver, Colorado. (Photo By Brent Lewis/The Denver Post)”

“What’s wrong with you guys? Those are the last words uttered from Castaway’s mouth as he lie there dying,” said Thomas Morado, a cousin of Castaway’s.

Castaway was taken to Denver Health Medical Center in critical condition. He died at the hospital.

The killing of Castaway was met with outrage online. 

Indian Country Today is reporting, while the family seeks justice for Castaway, they are also caught planning and funding his funeral and burial.

In response, supporters have launched a crowdfunding page for the family of Castaway.