On November 26, 2022, Eduardo Malpica Ramos, then 44 years old, attended a corporate event at Bar le Zénob in Trois-Rivières before vanishing into the night.
The Trois-Rivières police dismissed his wife’s concerns and told her for months that he had probably ran away after drinking too much. However, Eduardo was not a heavy drinker and was a loving husband and father to his four-year old son.
Eduardo’s family and friends were left with little support from the police and looked for him for six months, in vain. On May 3, coast guards found Eduardo’s body floating in the St. Lawrence River near Quebec City.
Security footage from Le Zénob show that before leaving the bar Eduardo got into an altercation in which he was called racial slurs and was physically assaulted by a group of people. From Peru and visibly Indigenous, he was the kind of person who stood out in a place like Trois-Rivières.
Footage also showed a seemingly disoriented Eduardo, even though his friends reported he was fine moments before. Even after viewing the footage, Trois-Rivières police still refused to investigate a possible hate crime. But Eduardo’s family was his whole world.
Our communities are very familiar with the police’s go-to explanation when we find our missing peers in bodies of water. “They were drunk so they went in the water,” they always say, even when it’s -40º outside.
We saw similar discourse from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) in Val-d’Or, even after their “starlight tours” practice was exposed in media and inquiries. We also see similar discourse expressed by the Thunder Bay police in Ryan McMahon’s docu-series Thunder Bay, a city with the highest rate of reported hate crimes in the entire country.
The alcohol factor is something that is often used to discredit and dehumanize Black, Indigenous and other people of colour, even in our death. But again, Eduardo was not a heavy drinker. Plus, he was afraid of water, because he couldn’t swim.
Katherena Vermette, a Métis author whose brother was found deceased (in the same river where Tina Fontaine’s small body was found) after he went missing in the North End in Winnipeg, writes in “indians”, a poem from her book North End Love Songs:
the family finds out
this land floods
with dead indians
this river swells
cold arms of ice
This poem has haunted me for years, even more so these past few days as I think of Eduardo and his family. His name will live in my advocacy against white supremacy and oppressive systems that rob us of our dignity. I hope his name lives in your mind as well, because Eduardo’s story is also the story of our Native kin who get pulled out of rivers and landfills and who never get justice every year in this country.
A lot of people are questioning the fact that Eduardo stayed behind after his last friend left the bar. He had recently moved to Trois-Rivières from Montreal with his family. His wife Chloé said that before he disappeared, he had been talking about wanting to make friends in his new town, because he was missing the social life he had in Montreal. Let that sink in.