Mayor Stewart, I spoke before you twice about the Opioid Crisis, once downtown Vancouver and once at the City Hall. Both times you heard me and knew what I was saying was truth, as did dozens of other speakers.
I’m here again to speak “more” truth to power. I hope that you are willing to genuinely listen, hear me out and make changes that are desperately needed to make Vancouver a Safer City.
My son, Jared Leigh Lowndes, was shot multiple times and killed in Campbell River on July 8, 2021. My family is still in mourning, we have recurring nightmares about what the last few moments of Jared’s life was like. His vehicle was rammed by several police cars, damaging it so badly that is a write off. And I can only imagine in all that chaos, what it was like to be yelled orders at just after a planned and targeted crash had occurred. His own puppy was in the vehicle, and when the Police Service Dog was released on him, I imagine he would fight to defend his puppy and his own life.
He had spent 3 months on our homelands with me. He had camping equipment, a sleeping bag, bear spray and a knife. He brought the bear spray and knife with him when he was clearing land for protection as there were bears on the territory. He kept all his belongings in his car when he travelled. He had made a trip to Vancouver Island to purchase a vehicle. The IIO returned the camping equipment and personal belongings to our family immediately after the shooting because I was in phone contact with them, and we had family members and family friends at the scene in Campbell River, to witness all moves the RCMP and IIO would take.
We really don’t know how things could have been different. But K. England is named as the handler for a Police Service Dog called Rex: they are named in the Pivot report.
When my son was shot multiple times by Campbell RiverRCMP, it is said by witnesses that a dog was released to attack him, to inflict pain and punishment. TheRCMP and media have not confirmed who the handler of the dog was that morning, but it was a dog called Gator, and police have named England as the handler in other media and reports. This is a brutal and savage practice used by the Vancouver Police Department as well.
England may have been the same officer, dog handler, involved in the incident that took place on July 8, 2021. IfRCMP had not ordered Gator to attack my son, they might both still be alive today.
I know many Indigenous men, who were youth at the times they were mauled by Vancouver Police Department Police Service Dogs, and who have life-long scars and injuries. Their lives were changed forever.
Their families still talk about the pain and suffering inflicted on their children, and the loss of job options and sports careers that should have been theirs, but were lost because of injuries.
The scars are multi layered.
There is one thing we believe and that is: if police were equipped with “always-on body cameras” we would see what happened that awful day. We would also know why the police walked over and around my son’s lifeless body, while they were talking, smiling and laughing.
VPD and RCMP often say they have lost the public’s trust, there is no faith to be had in forces that historically took children at gunpoint, boarded up windows and burned houses to the ground, like in my Wetsuweten homelands, and continue the shooting and killing of Indigenous people to this very day.
We are calling on you, to advocate, use your voice loudly and strongly to end the use of PSD’s from inflicting pain and punishment on our people, on all people. We are also calling on you to advocate for “always-on body cameras” so that the public’s trust and faith may be somewhat restored in forces whose job it is to serve and protect.
In my grief, love and rage, I will continue to advocate for my son, Jared Lowndes, until decision makers DO better to protect us.
Anyone, everyone, can advocate for a Safer City regardless of their position in life and no matter what their jobs are. I’m asking you to advocate for always on body cameras in the Vancouver Police Department and to Stop the Use/Abuse of dogs by VPD to harm us.
I look forward to seeing and hearing the steps you will take to advocate for a Safer City, by changing outdated and morally wrong policies especially in this time of Reconciliation. If small steps are not taken, then Reconciliation is truly dead.