Healing walks are being held across New Brunswick this weekend in memory of Chantel Moore, the 26-year-old Indigenous woman shot and killed by police in Edmundston.
Imelda Perley, the former Elder-in-residence at the University of New Brunswick and instructor at the Mi’kmaq-Wolastoqey Centre, said healing is the most important thing to rely on right now.
“Rather than showcasing anger, confusion, fear, I wanted us to unite in solidarity,” Perley said Friday. “To pray and to call on our ancestors and allies to walk with us.”
Moore was killed by Edmundston police on June 4 during a wellness check. Her funeral was Thursday. Quebec’s independent police investigation agency, the Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes, is investigating the shooting.
Healing marches in Edmundston, Fredericton and Moncton begin at 1 p.m. Saturday.
There are protocols for the healing walk, including using sacred drums to soothe shared anguish, and wearing ceremonial skirts and shirts to honour the First Nations’ colours and pride.
The moccasins provide stamina because they’re made from “our four-legged families,” Perley said.
“They gave their life so we can walk in moccasins.”
Perley said they are appealing to all creation to be present during the walk.
During the walk, women will carry a bowl of water that will be poured into the centre of a healing circle so Moore’s family can witness the emotions being given back to Mother Earth.
“Our gift of water is to carry the emotions of all people who are feeling the pain.”
The healing walk should not be called or be seen as a protest, Perley said. The walk is Ikatomone, which translates to “Let’s guard.”
“Let’s guard our spirits, our languages, our cultural ways of doing things. This is what I wanted to revitalize and remind the next generation that this is how we ask for justice.”
Everyone is invited to attend. Perley hopes non-Indigenous people use the time to reflect on their own contribution to what actions they can take to help reconciliation.
“It’s not that the silence is going to diminish a loss of life, but if anything it is going to support the family that right now needs the prayers, needs the calming, needs the gentle approach to having a beautiful memorial for their loved one.”