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B.C. First Nations question RCMP death investigations

By CBC.ca
Published on May 3, 2013

The Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs and the B.C. Civil Liberties Association were in Prince Rupert Friday, meeting with families of young First Nations people whose suspicious deaths remain unsolved.

Families allege the RCMP have not adequately investigated the deaths, including that of 21-year-old Justin Brooks, who drowned on the Prince Rupert waterfront on March 4.

Brooks’ relatives say police have not followed leads about a fight Brooks had shortly before his death, and there’s still no information about how he ended up in the water.

Brooks’ death follows the unsolved deaths 15-year-old Kayla Rose McKay in 2003 and 14-year-old Emmalee Rose Mclean in 2010, both also on Prince Rupert’s waterfront.

President of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, says the relationship between First Nations communities and the RCMP is broken.

“The RCMP have not paid enough attention to violent crimes against our people, whether along the infamous Highway of Tears or the many unsolved deaths of women and men throughout the north,” he said.

Micheal Vonn, Policy Director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association said First Nations families and communities in B.C. are unable to place their faith in law enforcement.

“Across the north we have heard from many First Nations communities that police treat them poorly compared to non-First Nations communities,” he said.

There will be a vigil in memory of Brooks, McKay and Mclean at 8 p.m. on May 4 at Prince Rupert’s Rotary Waterfront Park.

The BCCLA are seeking a meeting with the local RCMP, who indicate their investigation into the death of Justin Brooks is ongoing.