The police shooting of 30-year old Nuu-chah-nulth member, Melinda Martin, this past weekend in Ucluelet is sparking calls from her family for the use of body cameras by police.
Dr. Judith Sayers, President of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Nation, said police-worn cameras would make a difference in instances like this.
“There are situations where there are no witnesses,” Dr. Sayers said. “The body cam will be that witness. In the case of Chantal Moore, or Julian Jones, you have an independent source that shows what really happened.”
In June of 2020, Tla-o-qui-aht member, 26-year old Chantal Moore from Port Alberni, was fatally shot during a police wellness check in Edmundston, New Brunswick.
On February 27, 28-year-old Julian Jones was shot near Tofino after RCMP responded to a call for assistance.
Sayers is cousins with both Martin and Moore, saying that the shootings are hard on members of her community.
“There a lot of work that needs to be done to address this situation that has become, as far as I am concerned, a crisis,” Dr. Sayers said.
Although the Province has said there are issues that need to be addressed, B.C.’s Solicitor General and Public Safety Minister, Mike Farnworth, would not commit to a timeline.
“There are issues that have to be resolved and dealt with, for example, such as data storage, privacy issues,” said Farnworth.
In 2010, dashcam video recorded the unprovoked Seattle police shooting of Ditidaht First Nation member John T. Williams and the incident resulted in changes to how the city’s police interact with First Nations.
Former Solicitor General Kash Heed says there is no reason police in B.C. are not using body cameras.
“We need to put this in place right now,” Heed said. “We now to increase the effectiveness and accountability of our police officers that dealing with suspects, and even dealing with the community at large.”
Sayers says the province told her that the Nuu-chah-nulth will be among the first communities when body cams arrive in B.C.