About a hundred people attended the memorial for Jared Lowndes, who was gunned down by the RCMP outside the Campbell River Tim Hortons takeout on July 8, 2021.

The public portion of the memorial began in downtown Campbell River at 11:30 AM on Tuesday July 20th.

From there, participants drove to the RCMP station, where the crowd voiced their anger outside the door. 

Lowndes mother, Laura Hamilton, and more than a dozen protesters went inside, where three officers met them. You could see the officers mouth’s moving, but their words were drowned by the roar that erupted in response. The only voice you hear in the audio is Hamilton’s, who would not accept the RCMP explanation.

“There is no possible way you could understand the terror every time I close my eyes. I see the holes in his face, I see the f____ holes in his face. Do you understand, every time I close my eyes I see my son’s brains blown out,” she shouted, above the rising chants.

RCMP officer looms over female protester

Jared Lowndres mother, Laura Hamilton, speaking to one of the three officers who met her inside the RCMP headquarters – photo by Roy L Hales

Chief Darren Blaney, of the Homalco Nation, blames the shooting on the RCMP’s lack of training. He said the police should not have the authority to use lethal force after only six months training. The First Nations community, and people of colour, are paying the price.

The RCMP were attempting to serve an outstanding warrant for weapons possession.

According to Fay Blaney, the great aunt of Lowndes daughters Phoenix and Patience, Lowndes was acquitted of the associated charges years ago. The court dismissed them after Lowndes common-law wife confessed she had planted the gun in his possession. However the warrant, to obtain a sample of DNA that could show if Lowndes touched the gun, was still in the system.

Fay Blaney said the First Nations community has been targeted by police. She suspects that Lowndes fled because he knew the RCMP could inflict violence upon him with impunity.

According to a memo sent to Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in 2017, 36% of the people fatally shot during the previous decade were Indigenous, but they constitute less than 5% of the population.

Lowndes is the fourth member of Vancouver Island’s First Nation community that police have killed in a little over a year.
crowd of people in a strip mall

The procession assembling in downtown Campbell River – Photo by Roy L Hales

When they caught up with him at the Tim Horton’s take-out, the RCMP rammed Lowndes’ car from three directions. Lowndes and his four-month-old puppy were trapped inside. The RCMP sent the police dog Gator in after them. Lowndes defended himself with a knife, killing the dog. The RCMP responded by shooting him in the face three times. Unconfirmed reports state he may have been shot 6 times.

Cortes Island resident Tanya Henck drove by the scene at 9:15 AM that morning.

“I drove by probably 15-20 minutes after it happened and there was a good dozen cop cars lined all along the front. You could see people in the adjacent parking lot looking over. I drove by, probably an hour and a half later and you could see Jared’s body. He was covered, but it was very obvious to see. There was an ambulance on either side of him, but nothing was blocking him [from view]. When my friend drove by at 6:30 that evening, you could still see his body laying there,” she said.

Fay Blaney was among the friends and family that gathered on the sidewalk outside Tim Hortons. She said Lowndes body was not removed until 10 PM that evening.

The last stop, of the public procession for Lowndes was at the street-side shrine set up within in view of the Tim Horton’s take-out where he was gunned down.

This has been torn down several times and replaced by a memorial to the dog Gator.

“We didn’t come to tear it down, or shred anything. We have more respect than that. My son has more honour than that and he wouldn’t allow us to do anything like that. He would have wanted us to bring flowers and pay our respects, not harm anyone or anything. My son was an animal lover. There was no way he would want to kill a dog. It had to be a life and death situation, for him and his own dog, He was a vegetarian. He is 6 foot 6 and a vegetarian,” she said.
Two of Lowndes friends testify

Two of Lowndes close friends testify, one by words the other music, at his street-side memorial beside Tim Hortons

The testimonies to Lowndes character – his willingness to help, to listen, to drive people when they needed a lift – were many. A friend who had known Lowndes for 25 years, spoke of the many times they had shared each other’s problems. Others, including Lowndes daughters, shared their grief through song.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, could not attend, but wrote,“We mourn the loss of another cherished and critical Indigenous life that was needlessly taken at the all too ready hands of police. Jared Lowndes endured unchecked racism, violence, sexual and physical abuse, and mistreatment from the foster and criminal justice systems throughout his life. We join Jared’s family in absolutely condemning the lethal force used by the police and we support their calls for an Indigenous investigator and civilian monitor to be appointed by the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), as well as a public inquest into an incident that is but the latest in an unacceptable and racist series of Indigenous people dying through police actions.”

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Top photo credit: The memorial for Jared Lowndes reaches the RCMP building in Campbell River – Photo by Roy L Haless This program was funded by a grant from the Community Radio Fund of Canada and the Government of Canada’s Local Journalism Initiative