This text was originally published on Facebook on June 23, 2020 by Brady Francis’ mother, Jessica J. Perley.
Hi, my name is Jessica Perley. I am a Maliseet woman from Tobique First Nation. I have 5 beautiful children, three daughters and two sons with my husband Dana Francis. When we started our family, we decided to live and raise our family in Elsipogtog First Nation. I made the choice to change band membership to make life easier. So, I am proud to say that I belong to TWO beautiful strong First Nations, Maliseet and Mi’kmaq.
Two years ago, on February 24, 2018, one of my sons was killed in a hit and run accident. This happened just outside our community in a settlement called St. Charles. My son, Brady Alexander Perley-Francis was 22 years old when he died. The non-native man who was responsible for Brady’s death, was acquitted from his charges in court this year, April 28, 2020. We feel that the justice system failed us, something somewhere went terribly wrong because there was more than enough evidence to convict this person.
Our son called me at 9:24pm, the night he died. We knew he was out with friends on a Saturday having drinks. He was 22!!! It was his best friend’s birthday AND a bunch of his buddies were celebrating at a party…. Plus, Brady was of legal age to be drinking! The reason he called me was to ask if we could come pick him up. He knew that he needed to come home safely and that’s what we always told our kids… CALL us if you need a ride home in certain situations to stay safe. We told him ok, yes we will come and get him. Since he left the party on foot, for his safety, we told him to go back and wait at the party for us.
Once we got to where he was, at about 9:45-9:50pm, it was too late. He was already on the ground in the middle of the lane on the road. There were a handful of people on the scene trying to help him. They said that they had found him like this. There was no police or ambulance on the scene but there was one girl that was on the phone with 911 and one girl who was applying CPR. My husband is in the law enforcement field and has training in CPR/first aid, so his instincts kicked in and he worked on our son. It took about 10-15 minutes for RCMP and the ambulance to arrive.
They continued to work on my son with my husband’s help for about 20 minutes, with no success. When they pronounced his death, we immediately allowed and trusted the RCMP to do their job and continue with their investigation, and that meant leaving my son in the freezing cold on that road for 5 hours. We did not leave the scene until they moved my son into the coroner’s vehicle.
There was evidence on the road at the scene. It was that of a GMC Logo from a truck and pieces of plastic along with Brady’s belongings. There was a gas station that was nearby the scene, that had video surveillance. Showed vehicles passing by, and it had a time stamp, showed Brady walking by and a dog wandering around. Unfortunately, the video view did not reach where the accident happened and it was just meters away from where my son lay. There was another video surveillance system brought forward by neighbors of the accused. This video also had a time stamp and showed the man pulling into his driveway that same night, minutes after the accident.
Many witnesses came forward to say that they clearly saw a person (Brady) walking as they drove by that night. Some had to adjust to drive around him. This road has no side walk and the shoulder of the road on both sides is very thin or non-existent. The houses and residential area is very “country like” not like in a city setting. There were street lamps that were all working. These witnesses were all accounted for as the vehicles in the surveillance video from the gas station, of course by eliminating those vehicles it left that of the truck involved.
The next day, after the accident, a man and his wife reported in to the RCMP that they thought they hit a deer last night. Especially after finding out on social media that a truck was involved in a hit and run, the same truck as theirs. The Man openly admitted he was “Frigging around” with his truck and the hood in his garage the morning after.
There are so many things this couple have done/not done and said in statements that just prove that they are trying to hide something. It’s not only them, it’s people that know them. Some will tell you that both of them were out drinking that night. Some will tell you that they saw them out that night, drinking and partying. So my questions to those people who say all of these things, where were you, why didn’t you come forward when it mattered, where were you two years ago when the investigation was going on??!!
The investigation was nerve-wracking… waiting, waiting, praying and having faith that the members of the RCMP were doing everything possible so that justice can happen. They met with us and reassured us that they were working very hard on our case, that they were using experienced investigators and special units. Were they truthful? Were they sincere? Were they telling us things in order to keep us calm? The answers to these questions lies within the evidence and the case files they built and submitted to the Crown.
After testing the plastic pieces and the GMC logo with that of their truck, the findings prove that they match up. After the TWO experts, one expert from the RCMP side and the other from the defence side, examined his truck and the findings from BOTH experts concluded that this truck has damage that is consistent of hitting a pedestrian.
The man and wife both admitted to hitting something, they thought was a deer. The truck’s damage was consistent of hitting a pedestrian, and the truck pieces match the pieces that were found by my son’s body. Plus, the approximate timing of them going home matches the time stamps of surveillance videos.
This legal system that is in place here in Canada was designed and set up by the settlers/colonists and its structure is made for the settlers/colonists, so in the end it will work out for the settlers/colonists, Not for the First Nations/Indigenous People. Like I stated earlier, something somewhere went terribly wrong in the process of Justice.
The Defence chose to have the trial in French by Judge only. There was nothing set up to accommodate us, the family/victims, for the language barrier, as we don’t speak that language. It was only offered or suggested at the end of the trial, by the judge, that when she delivers her decision/verdict, they would make arrangements for translation. In my mind, if they could do this at the end, why didn’t they just do it from the start?
Makes you wonder…. if we were to turn this all around… if the young person that was killed was a non-native and they got all this evidence against a First Nation person…. what do you think would happen?
There are problems in this legal system, something somewhere went terribly wrong…who should be accountable and who should answer for my son’s death? We all know WHO is responsible. How many more tragedies have to happen for New Brunswick and All of Canada to address the issues that are happening here?
Have we, as First Nations Indigenous People of Turtle Island become too reliant and trusting of the colonists? Time and time again we are being let down, we are being brushed aside, we are being mistreated, we are backed into corners, we are being killed. Because OUR Nature as First Nation Indigenous People, is to LOVE ALL LIFE, we are so accepting of the Band-Aids the government throws at us. Temporary fixes.
New Treaties need to be made. New relationships need to be made with the settlers/colonists. Changes NEED to be made. What are you going to do New Brunswick? What are you going to do Canada?
Jessica J. Perley belongs to the Maliseet and Mi’kmaq First Nations.