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Systemic racism, public inquiry, First Nations, New Brunswick justice system, Chantel Moore, Rodney Levy


First Nations across New Brunswick have been demanding a public inquiry since the deaths of Chantel Moore and Rodney Levy at the hands of police barely a week apart from each other, and less than two months after the failed prosecution of the man alleged to have hit and killed Brady Francis. There are serious problems in the province’s justice system.

Mi’gmaq and Wolastoqiyik peoples are demanding more than just an investigation into the police conduct in Moore’s and Levy’s deaths; what is sought is a full examination of how New Brunswick’s justice system fails First Nations peoples in the province. Police operate in and are shaped by the wider justice system within which they work. First Nations recognize that you cannot fix one without fixing the other. The Premier is reluctant to agree to an inquiry and public perception of the need for one is mixed. I believe an inquiry is desperately needed and overdue.

As a Mi’gmaq woman with numerous personal connections to both New Brunswick and Nova Scotia and as a lawyer and an academic who has worked for First Nations in both provinces, I often find myself comparing how they are treated. I have long felt that New Brunswick’s treatment of its First Nations people lags decades behind Nova Scotia. A key difference between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is that in 1989, the Royal Commission on the Donald Marshall, Jr. Prosecution laid bare the overt and systemic racism that exists throughout Nova Scotia’s justice system. That report has served as a major catalyst for positive change.

Publication Abbreviation

J New Brunswick Studies