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

A cup of tea can be a great hand-warmer on a cold day. (submitted)
Tea: it picks you up, it does not let you down

A good cup of tea never fails to brighten up the day

A map created by Clear Seas Centre for Responsible Marine Shipping, which assesses the sensitivity of Canada’s Pacific Coast to oil spills. This map highlights the Douglas Channel and other inlets and waterways around Kitimat and out to the coast. (Clear Seas map)
Douglas Channel scores ‘medium’ to high’ on oil spill sensitivity study

The study was done by a not-for-profit group specializing in sustainable marine shipping

Jody Craven of Kitimat has been announced as the BC Libertarian Party’s candidate for North Coast riding MLA on Oct. 5. (Jody Craven photo)
Jody Craven of Kitimat in the running for North Coast MLA

BC Libertarian Party has announced Craven as North Coast candidate for riding

Martin Holzbauer, independent, Nicole Halbauer, BC NDP, and Ellis Ross, BC Liberal Party, are the candidates for the Skeena riding in the upcoming provincial election. (Terrace Standard/BC NDP)
Skeena candidates talk northwest education

Online learning access and early childhood education were common themes

Stikine provincial election candidates (clockwise from top left): Nathan Cullen, NDP; Darcy Repen, Rural BC Party; Rod Taylor, Christian Heritage; and Gordon Sebastian, BC Liberals.
‘Where is Annita McPhee?’: Cullen under fire from opening salvo of all-candidates forum

Four Stikine candidates spar during online debate from Prestige Hudson Bay Lodge in Smithers

In this photo provided by Shannon Kiss, smoke from the CalWood Fire billows, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, as seen from Gunbarrel, Colo. (Shannon Kiss via AP)
‘First guys out:’ Western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson visits a North Vancouver daycare to announce his party’s election promises for child care, Oct. 9, 2020. (B.C. Liberal Party video)
B.C. parties pitch costly child care programs in pandemic

B.C. Liberals say they’ll deliver on NDP’s $10-a-day promise for lower-income families

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A B.C. man decided to create a website to help people find family doctors accepting patients. Because Victoria is considered high-demand, clinic openings can’t be posted publicly. (Unsplash)
Vancouver Island man starts website that connects B.C. residents with doctors

Nanaimo man started project to help people find family physicians accepting patients

Voting station at Tzeachten Hall in the riding of Chilliwack-Kent on the first day of advance voting in the provincial election on Oct. 15, 2020. (Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. VOTES 2020: 380,000 British Columbians head to polls in first 4 days of advance voting

Some of highest voter turnout so far has been seen on Vancouver Island and in Shuswap

Grant and Barbara Howse, in quarantine in Invermere. Mike Turner photo
Denied entry into U.S., Kootenay couple still forced to quarantine for 2 weeks

The rules around crossing the U.S. border led to a bizarre situation for an Invermere couple

Fort St. John councillor Trevor Bolin (B.C. Conservative Party)
BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

Most Read