For the second week in a row, the RCMP showed up at a Kelowna church on Sunday (Jan. 10) as parishioners congregated in possible contravention of public health orders.
A Mountie arrived at Kelowna Harvest Fellowship just after noon, knocking on a door where an unknown number of people were participating in a church service. Pastor Heather Lucier emerged from the room to speak with the officer.
The RCMP has visited the church twice before. The first on Dec. 6, when an “educational approach” was taken by officers, and the second on Dec. 19, when the RCMP issued a $2,300 fine to Lucier for violating public health orders.
While it is not known at this point whether the RCMP has fined the church again, Lucier said she’s still undeterred, citing it as their “constitutional right” to gather and worship. She refused to reveal how many people had attended the service.
UPDATE: Neither the single Mountie on scene nor Heather Lucier could confirm whether a fine had been given before I left. Request in with RCMP to confirm. More to come.— Michael Rodriguez (@MichaelRdrguez) January 10, 2021
Lucier said several COVID-19 protocols are in place to ensure social distancing and keep parishioners safe. Asked whether mandatory masks were among those measures, she said it’s “freedom of choice” for everybody who attends and is not enforced. Lucier herself emerged from the service without a mask.
Lucier said she doesn’t feel as though she’s putting lives at risk by holding in-person services.
“We’ve not had any COVID outbreaks; we’ve not had anyone [become] sick because of our gatherings. So, we’re just going to proceed.”
Heather Friesen, a local activist who has counter-protested several anti-restriction rallies in Kelowna, was also at the church on Sunday afternoon, planning to go in and “expose them [herself].” She said a lot of people who were attending the service at the church are also frequent attendees of the “freedom rallies.”
“What’s happening in our city is very dangerous right now,” she said, after “charming” her way into the building and leading media and a Mountie through the building to the door of the room where the service was being held. “Kelowna needs to start seeing with its own eyes, hearing with its own ears, what’s going on.”
Kelowna Harvest Fellowship is among several B.C. churches challenging public health orders in court. The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms announced on Friday (Jan. 8) it would be fighting more than a dozen $2,300 fines given to individuals and faith communities across the province for their alleged violation of public health orders.
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