Heather Friesen leaving fliers on cars in the city hall parking lot on Nov. 14. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Heather Friesen has never been one to keep quiet.

Now, with her story and message being broadcast nationwide over various mediums, she is louder than ever.

But despite all of the noise she’s making, she still feels unheard.

As first reported in the Kelowna Capital News on Oct. 25, Statistics Canada data shows the Kelowna RCMP deemed almost 40 per cent of sexual assault reports as “unfounded” in 2018.

Since then, Friesen, who was gang raped when she was 15 year olds, has been on a warpath, saying that both the Kelowna RCMP and the City of Kelowna are “steeped in rape culture.”

In an endeavour to bring the breadth of her disdain to the attention of city officials — specifically Mayor Colin Basran — she staged her own one-person protest in front of city hall on Thursday morning (Nov. 14). She spent the morning leaving fliers on vehicles around city hall which called out the mayor for being a “man who protects rapists because he won’t call out the RCMP.”

READ MORE: Kelowna RCMP vow to review ‘unfounded’ sexual assault cases

READ MORE: ‘Steeped in rape culture’: Sexual assault survivor speaks out against Kelowna RCMP

In particular, Friesen has taken issue with the mayor’s response to the statistics, in which he cited his confidence in the local RCMP.

“I don’t have anything further to add except that I’m pleased that the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team is taking a further look at all the files to determine if a course correction is needed as it relates to sex-assault complaints,” said Mayor Colin Basran.

“Through these actions, I have complete confidence our detachment is taking this matter seriously. I want to be clear that the RCMP operates independently of the city and this is an RCMP matter. Any further questions should be directed to the RCMP detachment.”

The mayor’s confidence in local RCMP is, in Friesen’s view, a sign of the mayor’s direct support for the officers who asked her if she consented to be raped and another survivor who was asked if she enjoyed it.

“Say that to our faces,” she said.

“I’m just here to protest because I actually want Colin Basran to have the courage to come say to my face that he’s 100 per cent confident in the RCMP. Say that to the 40 per cent.”

According to Friesen, Basran is complicit in the city’s looming rape culture because he doesn’t understand it as he is in a position of privilege.

“Anyone that he knows who gets raped, the RCMP will take it seriously,” she said while standing outside of city hall, still holding about half of the 200 fliers she’d brought with her.

“He’s protected; the people he loves are protected. Those of us who don’t have his privilege won’t get taken seriously.

“He doesn’t want to get it because he’ll lose votes; he’ll lose (the RCMP’s) votes.”

While Basran has expressed his confidence in the RCMP, one of his councillors is less supportive about the situation.

“I have a lot of regard and faith in our local RCMP. Having said that, the stats are very, very worrisome — whichever way you look at it,” said Coun. Mohini Singh.

“I need some clarity, I need some explanation, I need to know why these cases were left unfounded.”

Singh added she has a teenage daughter and she wants to make sure the city is safe for our girls and our boys.

“I want to know why the stats are so high and what the cause is,” she said.

“I’m very worried about the situation.”

Singh said she’s looking forward to a report from the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team to provide clarity on the issue.

In a Nov. 8 statement, the Kelowna RCMP said it could not provide an explanation as to why so many cases were deemed unfounded.

“We understand that there are many questions about the roots of these statistics, and we’re taking immediate steps to get answers,” said Cpl. Meghan Foster.

“The BC RCMP has conducted a preliminary review of these files, but we are currently not in a position to provide specific examples of why any of these investigations were deemed unfounded. For every investigation, there are many variables — each investigation is different and we do not want to deter any other survivors from bravely coming forward to report a sexual assault.”

The RCMP has not given a timeline as to when the Sexual Assault Review Team’s investigation will be completed.


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sunken Gardens bloom from deeply seeded efforts

Garden club members are rooted in dedication

COVID-19 highlights lack of connectivity in First Nations communities

Many don’t have access required to utilize online platforms, says First Nations Technology Council

Salmon closures announced for Skeena and Nass watersheds

DFO notice expands on May 21 chinook ban throughout Skeena watershed

City to request conservation officer

Predatory wildlife appear to be bolder

City auditors reports are in

“We are now playing catch-up on all major assets,” CFO said

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read