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Grief in Racial Injustice: Honouring Chantel Moore

CN: Grief, death, police brutality, racism

Much of our work at VSAC centering the healing of survivors is also about grief. We understand that BIPOC communities face gender-based and sexualized violence at higher rates, and how our work to end sexualized and gender-based violence is intimately bound up with the fight against racial injustice There is immense collective and individual grief that comes out of experiencing sexualized violence- but we cannot address this grief without honouring the compounded traumatic and collective grief of systemic racism. 

We grieve the lives of Chantel Moore, 26. Korchinski-Paquet, 29. Rodney Levi, 48.

In the past month, we know of three Indigenous people who were killed during their interactions with police

One, was a 26 year old Indigenous woman- Chantel Moore. Chantel had recently moved from Nuu-chah-nulth territory of Vancouver Island to New Brunswick to be closer to her 5 year old daughter and her mother. Police were called to do a wellness check on Chantel which ended in her murder by the officers who attended the call.

The grief felt across Indigenous communities for the loss of these lives is profound. Losing someone to police brutality can bring with it the depth of denial and shock that is profound because it is tragic, unbelievable, and unexpected.

The profound collective grief and traumatic grief that arises around systemic injustice that has caused death is much more nuanced, compounded, and complex.

We live in a world where profound grief is not often considered acceptable. 

The dominant societal messages expect grief to be contained with a particular ‘start and end’ date. It is assumed that taking action cannot be part of grieving. Grief is not supposed to be: public, angry, or inconvenient.

However, at VSAC we believe that grief can absolutely be all of these things as well as shared by a collective identity or experience. Healing and grieving can be non-linear. It is not required to transform into forgiveness, follow a script, or to pass with time.  

There is room for all forms of grief here. The depth of collective anger, outrage, and sadness is powerful. Oftentimes, those of us who are white settlers expect that forgiveness and love should be the defining transformational feature of collective loss. However, that is not reserved for those of us who are settlers.

Those who have not experienced a loss due to police brutality or systemic violence may not understand all of the complexities that come with it, or be able to speak to the different ways of grieving that follow.

When grief comes out of violent acts of injustice- Forgiveness is not necessary. Niceness is not necessary. Patience is not necessary. Kindness is not necessary. Nothing is required and everything is okay. Grief can take as many forms as it needs. It can feel and exist however it needs.

It is important to respect people’s right to grieve in ways that are good for them. People have a right to privacy in grief, and the right to gather to collectively grieve. 

Whether it is considered socially acceptable or not your grief is not for anyone to contain, dictate, or take away – your pain is real, your anger is valid, and your grief is powerful.

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There have been a series of healing walks in honour of Chantel that have been held across the country. On Lekwungen territories there will be a gathering held at the BC Legislature this Thursday, June 18 at 4 pm. Attendees are encouraged to wear yellow. The organizers of the event are creating space to honour Chantel Moore, and also to acknowledge racism and police brutality as it relates to Indigenous communities in Canada. 

Link to Healing Gathering for Chantel Moore: https://www.facebook.com/events/640223836704425/

We are including this link to share the words of Chantel Moore’s friend, Laura Manson, one of the Healing Gathering organizers. Link to Chek News Article: https://www.cheknews.ca/healing-walks-underway-for-chantel-moore-gathering-planned-for-victoria-675049

Powerful words from Judith Sayers, president of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, about Chantel and a nation mourning her loss at the hands of police: https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2020/06/17/Nation-Mourns-Chantel-Moore/?fbclid=IwAR32TMbUZUD9F5sDm5rYw-Do1A29mjcYu4s_EYcibotmMqlc1cyrpjAzgtQ

Link to provide financial support to Chantel Moore’s family: https://www.gofundme.com/f/support-for-family-of-chantel-moore