Healing Walks were held across Canada on Saturday, June 13 as people gathered to honour the lives of two Indigenous people recently killed by police in the province of New Brunswick: Chantel Moore and Rodney Levi.
The Healing Walks were originally organized to commemorate the short life of Chantel Moore. Moore was killed by a police officer in Edmundston on June 4 while the officer was performing a so-called “wellness check.”
Moore, from Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, was 26 years old and had recently moved to New Brunswick to be near her young daughter and mother.
The Healing Walks in New Brunswick took on renewed meaning on June 12 when, the night before the walks, news of another death broke.
Forty-eight-year-old Rodney Levi from Metepenagiag Mi’kmaq Nation, near Miramichi, was killed by an RCMP officer. Levi was shot dead at his pastor’s home, according to an APTN story. He was unarmed.
Amanda Myran, one of the organizers of the Healing Walk in Memory & Justice for Chantel Moore in Fredericton, published on social media that, having received counsel from Elder Imelda Perley about what to do upon getting the news of Levi’s death, the Healing Walk would proceed.
More than 600 people attended the Fredericton Healing Walk, holding signs commemorating the lives of both Moore and Levi, demanding a stop to police brutality, and defunding the police.
Organizers had issued protocols for participation and encouraged participants to wear gold and rainbow colours to honour Moore, whose catchphrase was “stay golden!”
In Fredericton, the respectful crowd gathered at Fredericton City hall for speeches and prayers, led by Amanda Myran, Elder Alma Brooks and Wolastoqewi Grand Chief spasaqsit possesom Ron Tremblay.
The smell of sea sage permeated the air as volunteers circulated through the crowd performing smudges and distributing masks during the speeches.
Jingle dancers of all ages performed a ceremonial dance in memory of the deceased, with dancers raising their feathered fans to receive healing.
From the Carleton Street pedway, the crowd walked along the Wolastoq River along the trail, and around to the New Brunswick Legislature grounds where a Water Ceremony was performed by young water carriers.
Sophie M. Lavoie writes on arts and culture for the NB Media Co-op and is a member of the Editorial Board.