Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. (File)

Sexual assault survivor confronts Kelowna mayor at council meeting

After the council meeting, Heather Friesen had an item of her own to add to the agenda

A sexual assault survivor confronted Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran about his confidence in the local RCMP during a city council meeting on Monday night.

Heather Friesen, who was allegedly raped when she was 15 years old, has been extremely vocal about her disdain for the RCMP and the mayor after Statistics Canada revealed the city’s police force deemed almost 40 per cent of sexual assault reports as “unfounded” in 2018.

“The survivors in this community who are too afraid to report because of the reputation of the RCMP in this community are not just anyone,” Friesen yelled at the mayor and councillors after the meeting ended.

“I had the courage to stand in front of your office and call you out by name. And, when you apologize, all you say is anyone.”

The mayor tried to offer Friesen a meeting, saying he’d be glad to meet in his office, however the offer was drowned out by Friesen who continued to yell.

“You know where I live, you know who I am,” she said while making her way out of the room.

“Have the courage to come to me. I shouldn’t have to beg you.”

READ MORE: Protest planned against Kelowna RCMP’s high unfounded sexual assault numbers

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

Last week the mayor issued an apology to “anyone offended or hurt” by his initial reaction to the statistics.

“The number of local sex assault complaints deemed to be unfounded is deeply concerning and I know the local detachment is taking this matter seriously,” wrote Basran in a Nov. 15 statement.

“In retrospect, I should have waited for the results of an investigation into the matter before expressing my opinion.”

Basran said that while the RCMP operates independently, it is the city’s responsibility to ensure matters concerning citizens are being addressed.

He has also directed staff to stay in close contact with the RCMP on the issue until a review is completed.

“I support what the Kelowna RCMP has done in response to this new information from Statistics Canada – starting with an internal review and a subsequent request to have the RCMP’s Sexual Assault Review Team at national headquarters review the 2018 and 2019 files. That review will determine RCMP next steps,” wrote Basran.

“It’s my understanding that the RCMP will report out once the investigation is complete and I’ll wait until that happens before commenting further.”

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

For Friesen, the mayor’s apology — while a start — was not enough.

“Apologies are not sincere when you apologize for an offence given and you don’t recognize why they are offensive,” Friesen said in an interview last Friday.

“Again, Mayor Colin Basran’s privilege is keeping him from recognizing why his comments are so offensive to survivors of sexual assault.”

She said she hoped he would be willing to meet with survivors of sexual assualt and discuss the larger issues at hand.

“Rape culture is a driving force in Kelowna by the RCMP, the community at large, and by him. We need to start combatting it,” said Friesen.

“He needs to recognize how he contributed to it and how he can help stop it.”

Friesen also made a plea to other sexual assault survivors to come forward.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s in the last two years,” she said.

“If you have been mistreated by the RCMP; if you are part of the 40 per cent — who cares if it was 10 years ago? Start speaking out. Demand better for the next woman. I can’t do this alone.”

Friesen also left a flyer at the council meeting for an upcoming protest against the Kelowna RCMP.

The protest will be held in front of the RCMP deatchment on Richter Street on Saturday, Nov. 23 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.


@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

COSAR attends one search and two rescues over long weekend

Teams searched for a missing cliff jumper, were called out to a sinking boat and an injured ATVer

EDITORIAL: Improving highway safety

Highway 97 has seen plenty of collisions and accidents over the years

Kelowna house and hip hop artist grows in popularity with new single

Edge’s ‘Vice City Vibes’ is available on all streaming platforms now

UPDATE: Rose Valley Dam wildfire in West Kelowna knocked back on all flanks

The fire is three hectares in size and was first reported at around 2:30 p.m. on Aug. 2.

VIDEO: Otter pups learn to swim at B.C. wildlife rescue facility

Watch Critter Care’s Nathan Wagstaffe help seven young otters go for their first dip

New North Okanagan fire hall breaks ground

Groundwork is on tap for a new community firehall. Site works are… Continue reading

Princeton man faces charges after allegedly receiving ‘drunk driving’ lesson

The incident happened in the early morning hours of Friday, Aug. 1

VIDEO: Wildfire erupts north of Sicamous above Shuswap Lake

Observers suspect fireworks sparked blaze, Wildfire BC states cause still unknown

Canadians can travel to Hawaii in September; no quarantine with negative COVID test

Travellers will be required to pay for their own tests prior to arriving

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Anonymous letters tell Vancouver Island family their kids are too loud

Letter said the noise of kids playing in Parksville backyard is ‘unbearable’

Police watchdog investigates Kamloops RCMP after stabbing death

The IIO is investigating the police’s lack of success in locating the man charged in stabbing

Forty-three properties near Dry Lake, along Highway 5A, under evacuation alert

Wildfire has been burning out of control north of Princeton for two days

Most Read