VANCOUVER — The head of an Indigenous group says members have met with the RCMP in Chilliwack, B.C., to discuss how police plan to proceed after the driver of a pickup truck allegedly hit four people participating in a memorial march.
Garett Dan, captain of the British Columbia chapter of the Crazy Indians Brotherhood, says the meeting at the Cheam First Nation band office went on for about four hours and got "out of hand" at one point as everyone sat in a circle.
Dan says there was anger over the alleged actions of a 77-year-old man who turned himself in on Monday, two days after some members of the group were allegedly hit while marching along a highway to draw attention to survivors of residential schools.
He says Andrew Victor, chief of the Cheam First Nation, began the meeting where eight members of the brotherhood met with four RCMP officers, including an inspector and sergeant, from both the Chilliwack and Mission detachments.
Dan says Indigenous members were distressed that the suspect was not in custody because they did not think they would be treated the same way.
The RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Dan says the Mounties conveyed that an investigation was underway to determine if charges would be laid against the man who turned himself in after the incident.
Police said in an earlier news release that two of the four marchers who were struck suffered minor injuries.
The RCMP originally described the man in a news release as an "impatient driver" who could not pass marchers in the only eastbound lane of Lougheed Highway, near the former St. Mary's residential institution for Indigenous children.
Dan helped organize the weekend memorial march in Mission, and has said the driver was goading marchers even before the walk began.
"We never stopped traffic, we slowed it down," he said, adding the driver was telling people to stop the march and get off the road, "stuff like that."
Dan says the march to the former institution was emotional because participants were calling for ground-penetrating radar to search the site for possible unmarked graves of children who did not survive their forced attendance at St. Mary's.
Despite that, Dan says a man in a pickup told marchers to "get over" residential schools.
"Our people went through a lot of trauma and abuse in residential school and it's not like they can just blank that out," said Dan.
"It's exactly like telling a vet to get over the war."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 8, 2022.
(With files from Kelly Geraldine Malone)
The Canadian Press