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Metepenagiag community remembers Rodney Levi a year after his death

·3 min read
Becky Levi says her uncle, Rodney, used to live with her and her kids. She says he joined the family on every vacation.  (submitted by Becky Levi - image credit)
Becky Levi says her uncle, Rodney, used to live with her and her kids. She says he joined the family on every vacation. (submitted by Becky Levi - image credit)

Rodney Levi's family is still fighting for justice one year after he was shot and killed by an RCMP officer responding to a call for assistance.

The community of Metepenagiag First Nation gathered Saturday at Metepenagiag School to stand in solidarity on the one year anniversary of Levi's death.

"We're not going to just sit down and let this blow over," said Levi's niece, Becky Levi. "They took a real life. They took a real human. He was a lot to a lot of people."

On June 12, 2020, Levi was shot twice by an RCMP officer responding to a call for assistance on Boom Road, about 30 kilometres southwest of Miramichi.

Gary Moore/CBC News
Gary Moore/CBC News

Levi was the second Indigenous person killed by police in New Brunswick within a two-week period.

The first was Chantel Moore, a 26-year-old woman of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation in British Columbia, who was living in Edmundston. She was shot by an Edmundston police officer during a wellness check on June 4, 2020.

The two deaths sparked an outcry from people across the province, including calls for charges and an inquiry into systemic racism in the justice system in New Brunswick.

Chantel Moore/Facebook
Chantel Moore/Facebook

The Public Prosecutions Service of New Brunswick announced it won't lay charges against the officers involved in either case.

The Crown decided in January it would not pursue charges in the Levi case after it reviewed the report from the Bureau des Enquêtes indépendantes du Québec (BEI).

The Crown decided, based on interviews with 11 witnesses and a short video of the event, that there's no reasonable chance of conviction.

Watch: Metepenagiag community forms healing circle one year after Rodney Levi's death

Family members hope they will at least get more answers from a coroner's inquest planned for Oct. 4

Levi said the last year has been difficult. She misses her uncle's quirks and the light he brought to many lives. But the family is trying to make the best of a bad situation.

"He wouldn't want to see us falling apart," she said.

In his honour, Levi's family gathered their friends and all the kids Saturday to play a game of softball on the Rodney Gerald Levi Memorial Field, which opened last year after his death.

"He would have been so proud of this field," Becky Levi said.

submitted by Becky Levi
submitted by Becky Levi

Levi lived with her uncle until a few weeks before his death. She worked with troubled youth, which required long hours, and he took care of her two sons.

"I was able to do that because of Rodney," she said, "We were really close, he was like my right hand."

Justice for Rodney

Levi said her uncle has yet to get the justice he deserves and it feels like "everything is in limbo."

"We haven't gotten very many answers besides, 'no, no, no'," she said.

Levi said she wants to see the RCMP officer who killed him take accountability. She wants longer training for law enforcement officers before they're allowed on the field with a gun.

Gary Moore/CBC News
Gary Moore/CBC News

"I just don't want to see it happen to another family," she said.

Chief Bill Ward of Metepenagiag First Nation said Rodney Levi was a big part of his life. "He was the type of guy you would see everywhere in the community… he was friendly, he was funny," he said.

Ward said the call he received one year ago was devastating and a shock because Levi was a gentle and kind person. He said the community hasn't been able to heal and grieve properly because COVID-19 restricted gatherings.

Ward said he doesn't believe Levi has received the justice he deserves, but thinks it will happen.

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