The Indigenous woman shot by police in an incident near Ucluelet over the weekend is a mother of two and a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation, according to the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
The UBCIC released a statement early Tuesday morning saying members of the First Nation were “completely devastated” by the police shooting.
They also said the woman is currently in critical condition. Her injuries were initially reported as non-life threatening.
“This is the third recent shooting by the RCMP of one of our people — our population is approximately 1,150 people,” said Tla-o-qui-aht Chief Moses Martin. “Needless to say, we are experiencing heavy trauma and shock. We are frustrated that we are being told to wait for the investigation, which could take months.”
The shooting happened Saturday afternoon when Ucluelet RCMP was called to a report of a disturbance and a male needing medical assistance at a residence on Albert Road.
The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates police-involved incidents resulting in serious injury or death, says officers found the injured man and a woman inside the home.
“There was an interaction between the police and the woman,” said Ron MacDonald, the IIO chief civilian director. “The police reported that she had a weapon and there were shots fired by police and the woman was struck by those shots.”
She was hit by multiple bullets and flown to Victoria General Hospital.
Martin said the First Nation will be looking to support the woman’s family and will “also be seeking interim measures with the RCMP and the IIO.”
The Tla-o-qui-aht are calling for a transparent response that includes the First Nation “at every step of the way,” and are also echoing calls from other First Nations for “substantial” police reform including reallocation of funding to support de-escalation.
They also want to see an Indigenous person appointed to take part in IIO processes.
The latest police shooting follows other recent shootings of Indigenous people linked to the area. Two months ago, 28-year-old Joseph Jones was shot dead by a Tofino RCMP officer after police received a call for help from a woman. Last June, Nuu-chah-nulth woman Chantel Moore, who had moved to New Brunswick, was fatally shot by Edmunston City Police during a welfare check.
“Our prayers go out to the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation and the Nuu-chah-nulth Nation who are facing yet another police shooting, while still managing the trauma and grief of the shootings of Julian Jones and Chantel Moore with no response to previous calls,” said Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.
“We refuse to sit idly by and be silent while our people continue to be shot and murdered. We demand immediate action and full transparency by the police and the Independent Investigations Office in this investigation including a full review of the detachment, and the implementation of all calls put forward following previous shootings.”