By Dave Baxter
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A judge has ruled that the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) will be one of the organizations allowed to participate in an upcoming inquest into the death of Eishia Hudson, a 16-year-old girl who was shot and killed by a Winnipeg police officer during an incident in April of 2020.
On April 14, Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe of the Manitoba Provincial Court, granted the AMC’s First Nations Family Advocate Office (FNFAO) standing to participate in the Provincial Inquest into the death of Eishia Hudson.
“It is imperative that we bring the perspective and expertise of First Nations voices into these legal processes,” AMC acting Grand Chief Cornell McLean said in a Tuesday statement reacting to the judge’s decision.
On April 8, 2020, Hudson was shot and killed by a Winnipeg Police officer near the corner of Fermor Avenue and Lagimodiere Boulevard in Winnipeg following a robbery at a Liquor Mart in Sage Creek which led to a police pursuit of a stolen vehicle.
In January of 2021, Manitoba’s Independent Investigation Unit (IIU) released its determination, following its investigation, that no criminal charges would be laid against the officer who shot and killed Hudson.
Manitoba’s Chief Medical Examiner Dr. John K. Younes then called for a provincial inquest into the circumstances surrounding Hudson’s death in March of 2021, as per the Fatality Inquiries Act an inquest can be called if the chief medical examiner has reason to believe a person died as a result of use of force by a peace officer acting in the course of duty.
AMC now says that the inquiry must look into whether or not Hudson’s race played any role in her death and into the actions of police officers the day she was killed.
“When exploring the factors that contributed to Eishia’s death, it is impossible to ignore Eishia’s identity as a First Nation youth and how that identity may have flagged Eishia for specific treatment by system actors,” McLean said.
“The FNFAO is uniquely situated to serve the voice of First Nations youth for the Inquest, and hopes that this process will address some of the systemic issues faced by First Nations youth when encountering these systems.”
Along with AMC, Wiebe is also allowing three other parties to take part in the inquiry, as Hudson’s family, the Winnipeg Police Service, and the Manitoba Advocate for Children and Youth will also participate.
“I am hopeful that this inquest will be an opportunity for the family to receive justice and closure as they share their experience of this tragedy,” McLean said.
As of Wednesday, no date had been set for the inquiry.
– Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.