FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Family and Legal Advocates Demand Justice in the RCMP Murder of Jared Lowndes
September 8, 2021
Vancouver, BC, xʷməθkʷəy̓əm, Skwxwú7mesh, and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ Territories – Family, legal, and Indigenous advocates are calling for justice for Jared Lowndes, a Laksilyu, Wet’suwet’en father, killed in a RCMP-involved incident on July 8, 2021 in so-called Campbell River, BC.
Today, the family of Jared Lowndes has made public a letter Jared wrote to his legal counsel on January 28, 2021. The letter details in Jared's own words the harassment and surveillance he experienced from the RCMP, and reports his fear and suspicion that he would be murdered by police.
Following Jared’s death, an investigation was set up by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of BC. This investigation marks the fourth civilian investigation into the police shooting of an Indigenous resident of Vancouver Island in a year. Statistics reveal the enduring level of police violence inflicted upon Indigenous communities. A 2020 analysis done by CTV news found that an Indigenous person in Canada is over 10 times more likely to be shot and killed by a police officer than a white person. In the IIO’s investigations from 2020-21, over 25% of affected persons who provided their ethnicity to the agency identified as Indigenous, while Indigenous people make up less than 6% of the province’s population.
Jared's family, legal advocates, and Indigenous leaders are calling for changes in the way the IIO conducts investigations when Indigenous people are killed by police and are demanding financial support for the families of victims to seek justice.
In a letter sent to the IIO and the Attorney General, Union of BC Indian Chiefs, the BC Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Society highlight the enduring racism against Indigenous people, which follows them even in death:
“Neither police forces, nor oversight bodies, have undertaken sufficient work to eradicate structural racism within their policy or operations. The current status quo of police and police oversight reflects the diminished importance that these organizations place on Indigenous peoples’ safety.”
Excerpt from open letter released on September 8, 2021, full letter available online, @: (https://drive.google.com/file/d/1R8OpcU6AuXSVBA4_P5XeyXBMUQtxUZYU/view?usp=sharing)