The family of a man identified as “Little Ray” who was shot by RCMP in Thompson, Man. on Monday, is reaching out to the public for any video or eyewitness accounts.
“We recognize that we must work collectively to make change. Today your voice matters. We cannot remain silent or our relatives will continue to be mistreated by the systemic violence against the Indigenous people of this land. When you speak you become the voice of our relatives that did not survive police brutality or the legitimize(d) murder of Colten Bushie and all of the missing and murdered Indigenous women and men and so many more who did not survive to tell their story,” said Kikiwani Mikisew Iskwew, family spokesperson and sister of Little Ray, reading from a prepared statement.
Iskwew and her family were joined this afternoon at the Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) office in Winnipeg by MKO Vice Chief Shirley Ducharme.
Ducharme, who is also chief of the family’s home nation of O-Pipon-Na-Piwin Cree in Northern Manitoba, said the First Nation and MKO was “stand(ing) in solidarity” with the family and other MKO citizens.
Ducharme said MKO had an ongoing working relationship with the RCMP and would “continue to work closely with them as we work towards reconciliation.”
A video of the shooting was posted on social media. It shows Little Ray moving towards an officer. A single shot can be heard.
“Presently the family is still in shock from the video that circulated on Facebook and are feeling traumatized from seeing our loved one being shot,” said Iskwew.
The Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) of Manitoba is investigating the officer-involved incident which occurred at approximately 2:45 p.m. Oct. 25.
In a statement, IIU said, “According to notification, an officer attended a residence on Princeton Drive when he encountered a male armed with a knife. During the encounter … the officer discharged his firearm, striking the male.”
Little Ray was transported to the Thompson Hospital where he remains in stable condition.
Iskwew said that after reviewing the video, the family saw no indication of a weapon in her brother’s possession.
She also said that the family was “disheartened” by the “forceful” handling of Little Ray after he was apprehended and the length of time it took an ambulance to arrive. She said seven police cruisers responded to the incident and police officers “hovered” over Little Ray.
Iskwew said her Uncle Roger attended the scene, was ignored by the RCMP when he asked questions, and instead was confronted by a security guard.
“We are asking for your help. We do not want the justice system to fail us again,” said Iskwew.
Iskwew said the RCMP failed to gather evidence or undertake a full investigation, which led to another brother, who was murdered, not receiving justice.
“We want our voices heard because what we witnessed on Monday is the continued mistreatment against our relatives from the RCMP officers,” she said.
She asked witnesses to contact 431-374-9155.
Iskwew said the RCMP officer could have de-escalated the situation instead of shooting her brother.
She said her brother is in “good spirits, grateful to be here.”
Little Ray is the father of five.
IIU is also asking witnesses or other individuals who may have information or video footage to contact them toll-free at 1-844-667-6060.
In Manitoba, the IIU is mandated to investigate all serious incidents involving police officers and has jurisdiction over all police services, including the RCMP.
MKO Grand Chief Garrison Settee issued a statement on Oct. 25 saying MKO had been in touch with the Thompson RCMP and was “expecting a full report about what took place today in Thompson.”
By Shari Narine, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Windspeaker.com, Windspeaker.com