Truck driver charged after vehicle drove into crowd during memorial march for residential schools

WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.

A man has faced criminal charges after the vehicle he was riding in drove into several people during a memorial march for residential school survivors in Mission, BC, earlier this year.

Richard Albert Manuel, 77, was charged with dangerously operating a motor vehicle on Tuesday.

Dozens of people were marching on Lougheed Highway near the site of the former St. Mary’s Indian Residential School on June 4 when the incident occurred.

Witnesses said the driver of a blue Chevrolet Silverado made racial slurs and blatant threats before plowing into at least four people. They said he left the scene after that.

One victim suffered a concussion and damage to the soft tissues of his hip. Another was taken to hospital.

In a statement days after the incident, RCMP initially said the driver was “impatient” and tried to evade the group “despite the security risk”. The statement also said police did not believe the driver aimed it at protesters or their target, despite not speaking to him.

LOOK | Witnesses recount what happened during an alleged hit-and-run in Mission, BC:

Victims of alleged hit and run are speaking out

The victims of an alleged collision during a march at a residential school in Mission talk about their experience.

The characterization was widely condemned by those on the march, as well as community leaders. It was later removed from the RCMP’s website.

In a statement on Wednesday, RCMP thanked “the victims and witnesses who came forward and helped bring the investigation to this stage”.

St. Mary’s operated in two different locations in Mission for over a century before closing in 1984.

The march was organized by the Crazy Indians Brotherhood after the discovery of potential burial sites at Kamloops Indian Residential School in May 2021 sparked a national moment of reckoning.

Participants near St. Mary’s called for ground-penetrating radar to search the St. Mary’s site for the possible burial grounds of children who did not survive after being forced into the facility.

Manuel will appear in court on January 9.

LOOK | The March organizers claimed that RCMP had left them vulnerable:

Mission march organizers claim that RCMP has left them vulnerable

Organizers of the Mission residential school awareness march last weekend tried to have the RCMP on site for traffic control. But their request was rejected. According to witnesses, a pickup truck drove into a number of attendees during the march.

Support is available for anyone affected by their residential school experience.

A National Indian Residential School Crisis Line was established to provide support to former students and those affected.

Emotional and crisis referral services can be accessed by calling the 24-hour national crisis line: 1-866-925-4419.

KUU-US Crisis Line Society (BC): A First Nations and Indigenous-specific crisis line available toll-free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from anywhere in British Columbia. KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll free at 1-800-588-8717. Alternatively, individuals can directly call the youth line at 250-723-2040 or the adult line at 250-723-4050.

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line (National): The Hope for Wellness Help Line provides immediate assistance to all Indigenous peoples across Canada and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, offering both counseling and crisis intervention. Call 1-855-242-3310.

Helpline for children (5-20 years, French and English): Call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868.

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