Spirit walk, ceremony honouring man shot dead by police
Greg Ritchie's spirit was honoured outside Ottawa Police headquarters Saturday afternoon; days after his life ended at Elmvale Mall following an incident with police.
Messages of sadness and outrage were expressed by those in attendance.
"That spirit that is travelling right now; our brother that is travelling - we're with them." said Jocelyn Wabano Iahtail.
Indigenous community leaders spoke to the crowd of more than 20 who stood in a circle, hearing stories of personal tragedy and immense pain.
"There is no doubt in my mind, that definitely being brown, being black, being red in this land, is a contributing factor. Before we're even born, we're faced with racist, colonial, genocidal laws and policies." said Wabano Iahtail.
Ritchie, 30-years-old, lived in Ottawa. Those who knew him say he struggled with mental health issues. Police were called to the Elmvale Mall along St. Laurent Blvd. Thursday morning with reports of an armed man; the Special Investigations Unit confirmed in a media release the 30-year-old man died after being shot by at least one police officer. The police watchdog has assigned 6 investigators and another 3 forensic investigators to the case.
The leaders called for justice and change in already fractured relations between police and Indigenous peoples demanding the police service's mantra "Working together for a safer community" be removed from the wall outside its Elgin Street headquarters.
"His life having been lost, it's not going to be vain, it's not going to be in vain. He' going to be a catalyst, remember this!" said Jocelyn Wabano Iahtail.
Robert Lazore said the police service in Ottawa should look inward and re-examine its training and hiring processes; encouraging greater diversity among its force to better reflect the community it serves.
"They need to weed out the ones that can't think outside the box; that can't see beyond themselves and go around judging people by the colour of their skin or what they're wearing."
"They don't wake up wanting this to happen," said Ottawa's chief of police, Charles Bordeleau; though not addressing the shooting specifically. "This is a tragic incident. A person has lost their life and so it impacts that person's family, it impacts our community and it impacts our officers."
The SIU has 6 investigators and 3 other forensic investigators assigned to the case; asking witnesses to come forward with additional information, including video of the incident.