Discrimination by Canadian police against indigenous people and people of colour “needs to end,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Friday after police officers shot and killed an indigenous woman and video showed police appearing to purposely drive into an indigenous man.
The comments came amid protests against police brutality, sparked by the death of an unarmed black man in Minnesota who was in police custody.
“Far too many Canadians feel fear and anxiety at the sight of a law enforcement officer,” Trudeau told reporters in Ottawa.
“Over the past weeks we’ve seen a large number of Canadians suddenly awaken to the fact that discrimination is a lived reality for far too many of our fellow citizens.
“It is something that needs to end, and it’s something we’re working on,” he said.
Local police officers shot and killed Chantel Moore, 26, when they went to her home on Thursday to conduct a wellness check-in the Atlantic province of New Brunswick.
In a separate incident, a video shared on social media showed a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer driving into an indigenous man, appearing to purposely use a car door to knock the man down before arresting him. The officer is now facing an independent criminal investigation.
Indigenous leaders expressed outrage and a lack of surprise at the incidents.
“Racism is here and has been for more than 200 years,” Grand Council chief Glen Hare of the Anishinabek Nation, a political organisation representing 39 First Nations in Ontario, said in a statement.
Trudeau said the issue would be discussed by cabinet.
“I don’t understand how someone dies during a wellness check,” Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller said.
“There needs to be a full accounting of what has gone on. This is a pattern that keeps repeating itself.”