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UPDATE – Meeting with Mounties and Indigenous Leaders re: Driver comes forward, truck seized re Residential School Awareness March Hit and Run

Mission – JUNE 9 Update from RCMP:

FYI File # 2022-6240

Mission RCMP has been engaged in an ongoing investigation after participants of the March for Recognition for Residential Schools were struck by a pickup truck on June 4, while the March was making its way along Lougheed Highway just east of Mission.  Two of the people struck received non-life-threatening injuries.  The 77-year-old driver came forward the following day and is cooperating with the investigation.
 

The incident was deeply concerning for everyone involved, and members of the public raised concerns about whether the incident was racially targeted, and why the driver was not in custody. As a result, members of the Cheam First Nation invited officers from both the Mission RCMP and Upper Fraser Valley Regional District RCMP to meet with them on June 8.
 

Senior leaders from both RCMP detachments accepted the offer, and spent the morning meeting with the Cheam First Nation, as well as members of the organizing committee and some of the victims of this incident, says Inspector Ted Lewko, the officer in charge of the Mission detachment.  It allowed an opportunity for us as the RCMP to listen to their concerns, as well as to be able to explain the importance of a proper fulsome investigation, and not rushing through it.  We want to ensure we put our best foot forward when conducting investigations.  The Mission detachment is working diligently through the investigation and its officers will continue to work towards building positive relationships with Indigenous communities.
 

The Mission RCMP’s Serious Crime Unit has taken conduct of this complex investigation, and is continuing to interview more witnesses, with around 20 interviews already having been conducted.  Investigators believe that some of the people whom have posted video footage about this incident on social media have not yet contacted police to provide that footage or their statements.  Officers continue to encourage any witnesses, or anyone with video footage or dash-cam footage of the incident – even if it is simply footage of vehicles waiting in traffic – to contact Mission RCMP at 604-826-7161.  Police are also specifically looking to speak with the driver of a single-unit dump truck or semi truck that was behind the blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup when it drove away from the area of the March.  Police believe that driver may have some key information for this investigation.
 

The Mission RCMP empathizes with those who have been affected by this incident, and understand that closure cannot come soon enough.  At the same time, it is also vitally important that the investigation be conducted at the highest standard, to ensure that the evidence gathered is upheld in Court, and no witnesses or evidence is missed.  Investigators are holding integrity, respect, and compassion at the forefront of their investigation, and once the evidence gathering phase has been completed, a comprehensive report will be prepared for the BC Prosecution Service, for the charge assessment process.  The RCMP is committed to doing so in a thorough and timely manner, to help to bring answers and healing to those involved in this incident and the wider community, and to move forward together.
 

JUNE 6 UPDATE – From Mission RCMP –

The driver of a truck that reportedly hit four people walking in the March for Recognition for Residential Schools has come forward to police and is cooperating with the investigation.   The 77-year-old driver is not in custody.   Mission RCMP has seized his truck for examination.

The March took place on June 4, and temporarily blocked the only eastbound travel lane of Lougheed Highway, just east of Mission, as a large group made their way from Heritage Park to the site of the former St Mary’s Residential School.   RCMP was called by a bystander after it appeared as though a fight was about to break out.  When police arrived, they learned that a man driving a pickup truck had driven up through part of the demonstration, allegedly hitting four people while doing so, before driving away.  Two of the four people received minor injuries.

“Thanks to the assistance of the news media and social media, this driver learned that police were looking for him, and he came forward and has been interviewed by police, which has helped to advance this investigation,” says Constable Harrison Mohr with Mission RCMP.  “However, we still need a few more details, and are asking for more information from the public.  We did not actually receive any 911 calls about the truck driving through the March, however we believe that there are more witnesses – including more people with cell phone video and dash cam footage who have not yet come forward.”

Mission RCMP is specifically looking to speak with the driver of a single-unit dump truck or semi truck, possibly blue in colour, that was behind the blue Chevrolet Silverado pickup as it passed the March.  Police believe that driver may have some key information for this investigation.

“This has been a traumatizing event for the people involved in the March, as well as the wider community, and police are working hard to gather all of the evidence to help to bring some answers and some closure to everyone involved,” says Cst. Mohr.  “Like any criminal investigation, we need to let the evidence guide the investigation, and that’s why we’re continuing to ask for more witnesses to come forward.  We want to ensure that we present the best evidence possible for charge assessment by Crown Counsel.”

Anyone with more information should call Mission RCMP: 604-826-7161.

JUNE 5 STORY – From the City of Mission Media Release, Parks & Recreation: Yesterday (Saturday June 4) during a march to raise awareness about residential schools here in Mission organized by the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, four participants were struck and injured by a driver along Lougheed Highway.

This is an upsetting and unacceptable outcome to a peaceful march to bring awareness to the ongoing impacts of displacing and separating whole generations of children from their families, Elders, culture, and homes when they were forced to attend St. Mary’s residential school in Mission. This behaviour is not a reflection of who we are here in Mission or what we aspire to be.

We wish everyone who was injured yesterday a full recovery and all who witnessed it peace.

We all need to do our part to keep each other safe. This means learning, making space, and providing support.

The City of Mission is committed to Reconciliation with First Nations communities and peoples. Staff have been in contact with Mission RCMP and Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure and will be reaching out to organizers and local First Nations.

Anti salmon farm activist Eddie Gardner’s staff were at this location and told FVN that they were very close to the incident. The concern was that RCMP was ( in their opinion) slow to respond.

Gardner himself posted to FVN’s Facebook page: “There is absolutely no excusing anyone for recklessly driving through a crowd, resulting in harm to law abiding citizens peacefully marching for a social cause, and driving away because they were upset because of a delay. The driver needs to have his driver’s licence suspended and sent to a program to develop emotional intelligence.”

Mission RCMP Cst. Harrison Mohr released a statement on Sunday June 5:

“At around 12:30 pm on June 4, Mission RCMP were called to the area of the former St Mary’s Residential School, after an impatient driver tried to get around a group of people marching on the highway.

The March for Recognition for Residential Schools was making its way from Heritage Park to the former St Mary’s Residential School, and subsequently delayed eastbound traffic along a short stretch of Lougheed Highway.   The March had a traffic control person in place, as there is only one eastbound lane, with no places to pass.  Despite the safety risk, one driver pushed his way up through the group, making contact with approximately four persons in the group, including the traffic control person and one of the organizers of the March.  Two people sustained minor injuries, and later went to hospital for treatment.

It sounds like this driver became upset that his trip was going to be delayed by a few minutes, and drove into oncoming traffic to try to get around the group, says Constable Harrison Mohr with Mission RCMP.   When faced with oncoming traffic, he drove his vehicle into the midst of the group until the cars went by, then pulled out and passed again.   In doing so, he struck several members of the March.  Fortunately, none were seriously injured, and the March was able continue as planned.

There is no indication that this incident was targeted, or that the driver’s actions had anything specifically to do with the people marching or their cause.

No one is in custody, however thanks to numerous witnesses, police have identified the licence plate of the vehicle.  Anyone with dashcam or cell phone video of the incident is asked to contact Mission RCMP: 604-826-7161.  The highway is fully open, and Mission RCMP’s Traffic Services officers are engaged in this investigation.

We’re going to be gathering as much evidence as possible to determine the appropriate charges to recommend, says Cst Mohr.  Trying to save a few minutes of time by endangering the lives of others is simply unacceptable.

Brad Vis, MP for Mission–Matsqui–Fraser Canyon took to Facebook:

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