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 Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

Deana Conde Garza, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District, has been gathering items, such as an old wheelchair from her uncle’s farm in Alberta, for the club’s upcoming Haunted Hospital event. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake creating Haunted Hospital for Halloween fundraiser

Family pods of six or less can register online to attend, event goes Oct. 29 and Oct. 30

Williams Lake Minor Hockey Association president Mike Rispin addresses city council at its regular meeting Tuesday, Oct. 20 to ask the City to rescind its no-spectator policy. The order was rescinded that evening and on Friday, Oct. 24 the City released COVID-19 policy updates. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
COVID-19 policy updated at Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex

The City, council, CRD staff and user group representatives met to clarify the guidelines

DriveBC webcam shot of Highway 20 near Anahim Lake Friday, Oct. 23 at 11:30 a.m. shows snow-covered roads. A travel advisory is in effect. (DriveBC webcam image)
Travel advisory in effect for Highway 20 from Williams Lake west to Firvale

Winter driving conditions continue to have an impact

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read