Police call for patience after meeting with protesters from residential schools

A group was walking on Lougheed Highway at the March for Recognition for Residential Schools last Saturday when they were hit by a pickup truck

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Police preach patience after a sometimes heated encounter with First Nations leaders behind a memorial march past a former Mission residential school, which was disrupted by a pickup truck driver who beat and injured several participants.

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Investigators investigating the incident were invited to meet with the Cheam First Nation and the organizers of the march, and they accepted it on Wednesday.

A group was walking on Lougheed Highway at the March for Recognition for Residential Schools last Saturday when they were allegedly hit by a pickup truck. Two people were not life-threateningly injured. After media reports, a 77-year-old driver came forward on Monday and Mission RCMP says it is cooperating with the investigation.

Garett Dan, captain of the Crazy Indians Brotherhood’s BC branch that organized the march, said the meeting at the band’s office lasted about four hours and at one point “got out of control” as everyone gathered in a circle. to sit.

He said anger was expressed that the senior involved in the incident is not in custody, claiming that indigenous people would have been treated differently.

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Police have described him as an “impatient driver,” but Dan claims he urged protesters before the walk started, saying the driver of a pickup truck told them to go over residential schools.

“Our people have been through a lot of trauma and abuse in residential school and it’s not like they can just ignore that,” Dan said. “It’s exactly like telling a vet to win the war.”

“The incident was deeply concerning to all involved, and members of the public expressed concern as to whether the incident was racist and why the driver was not in custody,” RCMP spokesman Const said. Harrison Mohr in an update on Thursday.

Mohr said members of the Cheam First Nation had invited officers from Mission RCMP and Upper Fraser Valley Regional District RCMP to meet on Wednesday. Senior leaders of both detachments accepted the offer.

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They “spent the morning meeting with the Cheam First Nation, as well as members of the organizing committee (of the march) and some of the victims of this incident,” Insp said. Ted Lewko, the officer in charge of the mission detachment.

Lewko said it was an opportunity to “listen to their concerns, as well as explain the importance of a pretty comprehensive investigation, not rush through it.

“We want to make sure we put our best foot forward when conducting investigations. The Mission detachment is working diligently on the investigation and its officers will continue to build positive relationships with Indigenous communities.”

RCMP says the serious crime unit has taken over the “complex investigation” and is questioning more witnesses in addition to about 20 who have already spoken to police. The unit also asks that anyone who has posted video of the scene on social media provides that footage and talks to investigators.

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Witnesses and anyone with video or dashcam footage are asked to contact Mission RCMP at 604-826-7161. Specifically, the investigators hope to speak to the driver of a one-piece dump truck or semi-truck who was behind the blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup as it pulled away from the march.

Meanwhile, the police ask for patience.

“The RCMP mission is with those affected by this incident and understands that closure cannot come soon enough,” Mohr said in the release. “At the same time, it is also vital that the investigation is conducted to the highest standard, to ensure that the evidence gathered is confirmed in court and that no witnesses or evidence is missed.”

The investigators say they are committed to putting forward recommendations on charges “in a thorough and timely manner, to help bring answers and healing to those involved in this incident and the wider community, and to move forward together.” “

At least 21 children who attended the former St. Mary’s Residential School in Mission died, according to the National Center for Truth and Reconciliation. The school closed in 1984, and a former employee was convicted of 12 counts of indecent assault related to his time at the school two decades later.

— With a file from The Canadian Press

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