Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs Demand Action And Accountability For Deadly Deaths By RCMP

May 10, 2024 | Uncategorized

The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs join the call for a public inquiry into RCMP deaths of Indigenous Peoples and urge the BC Prosecution Service (BCPS) to reconsider criminal proceedings against the officers responsible for the deaths of Dale Culver in 2017 and Jared Lowndes in 2021.

On April 5, 2024, the BCPS announced it would abandon its case against constables Paul Ste-Marie and Jean Francois Monette, the two RCMP officers charged with manslaughter in Culver’s death. 35-year-old Dale Culver, a member of the Wet’suwet’en and Gitksan Nations died in police custody after being chased for riding a bike without a helmet.

Just two weeks later, on April 23, the Crown declined to prosecute the three RCMP officers involved in Lowndes’ death. Jared Lowndes, aged 38 and a member of the Wet’suwet’en Nation was fatally shot by police in a Tim Horton’s parking lot.

In both cases, charges were stayed or not approved despite the findings of the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) that officers committed offences. The Chief Civilian Director of the IIO is now calling for answers.

“The message is clear, First Nations lives are disposable,” says Joel Starlund/Sk’a’nism Tsa ‘Win’Giit, Executive Director of the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.

“We have faced potent racism and injustice at the hands of the RCMP since its creation. The history of systemic oppression is deeply ingrained with numerous instances of violence and discrimination perpetuated against Indigenous people.”

In 1888, a tragic event exemplified these injustices when Gitanyow Chief Kamalmuk, known as Kiwancool Jim, was shot in the back during a botched arrest by the RCMP. This historical incident underscores the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights and justice.

Today, Indigenous people are more than 10 times more likely to be murdered by the police in Canada than non-Indigenous people.

“It’s beyond infuriating to witness the RCMP evade accountability time and again for the unjust killings of First Nations,” says Debbie Pierre, cousin of Dale Culver and Operations Manager for the Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs.

“This crisis demands immediate action, it’s not only necessary but long overdue. How many Indigenous people have to die before changes are made?”

The Gitanyow Hereditary Chiefs stand in solidarity with the families of Dale Culver, Jared Lowndes, and all Indigenous communities who have tragically lost loved ones due to the actions of the RCMP.