The Dene Nation is calling on the RCMP to publicly release the dashboard camera (dashcam) footage of the arrest of Chief Allan Adam in a news release issued Wednesday.
The Globe and Mail reported earlier this month that Adam, chief of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation, was arrested outside of Fort McMurray, Alta. on March 10.
The Dene Nation news release pointed out that Adam had been left nearly unconscious during the encounter and that he bled profusely from his face. Adam stated that the incident began when police noticed his truck had an expired license place and he said excessive use of force was used against him when his wife was apprehended.
“The Dene Nation stands with Chief Adam and supports his calls for the RCMP to release the corresponding dashcam footage,” reads the release.
National Chief of the Dene Nation Norman Yakeleya stated that he spoke with Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, to point out that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had said that there was no relationship more important than the one between Canada and Indigenous peoples.
“Yet, we cannot have a nation-to-nation relationship based on respect, partnership, and a recognition of rights when the institutions designed to keep society safe are the same ones perpetuating the colonial attitudes and abuse that were designed to destroy our individual cultures and humanities,” Yakeleya added. “There is systemic racism in policing across Canada, period.”
The news release points out the RCMP’s role historically in removing First Nations children from their homes to place them in residential schools as well as the role of the state in moving Indigenous people off their lands and onto reserves for settlers.
The document adds that the RCMP acknowledged in 2017 that one-third of people shot dead by police officers over the last 10 years were Indigenous.
“I am grateful that Alberta Serious Incident Response Team will be conducting an independent investigation into the police brutality against Chief Adam,” stated Yakeleya. “However, just last week, I spoke on two independent inquiries — The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls to Justice one-year anniversary and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action five-year anniversary.”
Yakeleya said based on both experiences, there have been blueprints but no action.
“We need immediate action. We deserve immediate action for Chief Adam,” he stated. “We need immediate action for Chantel Moore (an Indigenous woman shot in New Brunswick during a police health check recently). We need immediate action to keep First Nations safe from police across the Denendeh and Canada.”
A request for comment was submitted to the RCMP early Thursday.