The head of the organization representing 74 Saskatchewan First Nations is expressing serious concerns following the shooting death of a 22-year-old man.
Brydon Whitstone, of the Onion Lake Cree Nation, died after being shot by RCMP Saturday in North Batteford.
Bobby Cameron, chief of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN), spoke on the Brent Loucks Show on 650 CKOM Monday morning in response to the shooting.
He said he’d been getting calls and messages throughout the weekend, with many questioning the details around the RCMP shooting of a young First Nations man.
Cameron said the situation furthers the mistrust First Nations people have about the justice system, and noted there is also a lack of trust in the independent investigation.
RCMP in a media release issued after the shooting said they had pursued a vehicle driven by Whitstone following reports of a man being chased by a vehicle and shot at.
The chase ended shortly after Whitstone allegedly rammed a police cruiser. The police release said officers opened fire “in response to the driver’s actions following the pursuit.”
Cameron said that explanation left him wondering what led police to shoot Whitstone.
“The comments about ‘in response to the drivers actions to the officers,’ what does that mean?” Cameron asked.
He said he was concerned police may have been too quick to use lethal force.
“Does damage to a vehicle warrant to kill someone on sight?”
RCMP have turned over investigation of the shooting to the Regina Police Service. The investigation will also be overseen by the provincial Ministry of Justice.
Cameron said the FSIN has long wanted to see First Nations represented in these types of inquiries.
“The majority of people that are incarcerated are First Nation people. Wouldn’t it make sense to have one of our own First Nation legal experts involved in all these processes?”
Cameron said involving First Nations people in the investigation would be a step toward rebuilding trust in the justice system.