It was intended to be a peaceful ceremony.
Del Manak, chief of the Victoria Police Department, was an invited guest at the memorial event that took place on Saturday on the south side of the B.C. Legislature building, having worked closely with Chantel Moore’s family following her death.
The 26-year-old Indigenous woman was shot and killed by police in New Brunswick during a wellness check in 2020.
But things quickly went sour at the memorial — following the chief’s remarks and a blanketing ceremony, he was observing the remainder of the event when a woman walked up and poured some kind of liquid down his back, according to a press release issued by the Victoria Police Department.
Moore’s family is now speaking out against the actions of the suspect and said the incident moved the conversation away from what the ceremony was really about: healing.
“It took over the event which was … corrected and done right,” said Hjalmer Wenstob, Moore’s uncle.
“It was about coming together with love and respect and moving forward together. So, our family and sister carry really heavy hearts today. We carry really heavy hearts because … we do not condone violence and we do not condone violence on anyone’s behalf,” he added.
In a statement, police said they’re also upset by the act and call it unacceptable.
Five people were arrested following the incident, but were later released with a future court date.
“What I really feel is very upset on behalf of Chantel Moore’s family. This event was for her and because of this act, it’s become about something else and that’s wrong,” said Victoria mayor Lisa Helps.
“I think obviously there’s a lot of healing that needs to happen between police and Indigenous communities in British Columbia, in Victoria, across the country. And this event yesterday was about that. It was about healing,” she continued.
Moore’s family has since been discussing the aftermath of the event.
They want to make it clear that they weren’t at all affiliated with the group behind the incident or the protest that took place outside of the police department afterwards.
‘The act of a few small people took the media away from the good work that we were doing. It took the attention away from the good work that we were doing. .. And it’s just so heartbreaking to see that our little girl’s name is being used for everyone’s agenda but her mom’s and our family’s,” Wenstob said.
The family said they plan on releasing a statement later on Sunday.
In the meantime, they want people to understand the ceremony was meant to be a time for healing.