Families of people slain by police gather, mourn in Winnipeg

·3 min read
A person at a Saturday rally against police violence holds a photo of Jason Collins, who died in April 2020 after being shot by Winnipeg police officers responding to domestic violence call. (Ian Froese/CBC - image credit)
A person at a Saturday rally against police violence holds a photo of Jason Collins, who died in April 2020 after being shot by Winnipeg police officers responding to domestic violence call. (Ian Froese/CBC - image credit)

United by tragedy, Canadians who died at the hands of police were remembered in Winnipeg on Saturday by those who cared for them.

William Hudson was at the rally, resting his hand on the shoulder of many of the speakers. Some were brought to tears by what they believe was the preventable loss of a loved one.

Hudson's 16-year-old daughter, Eishia, was fatally shot by Winnipeg police in April 2020 following a high-speed pursuit.

"To me, this is medicine — having all the families here, all of you coming out here to show your support for the families," Hudson said.

He helped organize the BIPOC Families Against Police Violence rally, which began with a march through downtown Winnipeg and ended with speeches at the Manitoba legislature grounds. More than 200 people attended the rally.

Ian Froese/CBC
Ian Froese/CBC

Among those who spoke at the rally were people who lost a loved one in a police incident. Many of their stories attracted national media attention.

"If we're going to find any justice, it's going to be right here in Winnipeg," said Peter Korchinski.

His 29-year-old daughter, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, fell to her death from her 24th-floor apartment balcony in Toronto in 2020 while police were at her home.

Investigators have cleared five police officers of wrongdoing in her death, but the family believes police are responsible.

"The truth is going to come out. It already is out," Korchinski said to applause.

Regis's mother, Claudette Beals, said later it is comforting to bring together families who share the same grief.

"The whole reason why we're doing this is because each family has been fighting by themselves ... and we've been getting no place," she said.

"We decided to bring all of the families together because we can do more if we come together as a group," said the mother, who has travelled to multiple cities to speak out.

Ian Froese/CBC
Ian Froese/CBC

Martha Martin told the crowd in Winnipeg she too is seeking justice.

Her daughter, Chantel Moore, was shot and killed by a New Brunswick police officer during a wellness check in 2020. The officer is not facing criminal charges, since he believed Moore was using force or presented the threat of force, prosecutors said.

Martin doesn't agree with their position.

"You come to these gatherings and you feel all the pain of all the parents and the sisters and the grandparents," Martin said.

"And then you get strength when you hear other stories, and we come together and get stronger," she said.

Ian Froese/CBC
Ian Froese/CBC

Jason Collins, 36, was shot to death in April 2020 in Winnipeg by officers responding to a domestic violence call.

A childhood friend has questioned the police account of events.

"Jason was a son, a father, a brother, an uncle and a best friend to many. He was a working man and someone who would share the shirt off his back with anyone."

Many attendees at Saturday's rally called for reform of policing, including calls for abolishing police forces, and some speakers demanded political leaders show they care about the lives of citizens who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour.

William Hudson says he disagrees with the Winnipeg Police Service's description that his daughter was involved in a "full-blown pursuit."

"They have on their vehicle, 'we protect and serve,'" he said of police. "Their vehicle should be saying 'we protect our own before we protect the community.'"

The Winnipeg Police Service said in a statement it respects people's right to peaceful assembly and protest, regardless of the cause.

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