Brie Jacobson survived the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Now, she’s taken to writing and activism to help inspire change. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich woman who survived Las Vegas shooting turns to writing, activism

‘I was stripped of my innocence…other Canadians died,’ the survivor said.

Two years ago, Saanich woman Brie Jacobson and her best friend were in the middle of a concert at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.

It is also when Jacobson said a part of her died. She and her friend watched dozens of people get shot right in front of their eyes as one of the largest mass shootings in modern U.S. history unfolded before them. Fifty-eight people died and over 400 were wounded.

“That night was hell,” Jacobson wrote in a letter this week.

After the events, Jacobson went from being a full-time student to going to a full-time therapy patient, faced with questions like “how did this happen” and “how could this man have access to those weapons and ammunition?”

After graduating with a communications degree from Royal Roads University shortly after the shooting, the Saanich resident has taken to writing and using her words to fuel activism.

READ ALSO: ‘We’ll keep coming every year’: Family honours B.C. man killed in 2017 Las Vegas shooting

“As Canadians we’re lucky we get to exist in a world without fear of gun violence versus our American neighbours who have to live in fear that it could happen again,” Jacobson said. “It’s foolish to say there’s nothing to do to prevent (gun violence)…no gun no problem.”

For Jacobson, turning to activism was a natural fit. She said it’s something she’s been drawn to since she was young, always wanting to find solutions to try and make something better. Now, she’s hoping she can start and maintain conversations about gun violence and gun laws, holding those in power to account.

“With an election coming up in Canada and the US, we need to remember that we’re hiring people to do a job and if they didn’t do their job properly in any other scenario they’d be fired,” Jacobson said.

While many people have questioned why Jacobson is getting involved U.S. issues, Jacobson argues that her horrific experience brings her into the debate.

“I was stripped of my innocence…other Canadians died,” she said. “If you impede on our safety when we’re a guest in your country, you’ve revoked the right to say we’re not included in the conversation…if you see that your neighbour’s house is on fire you’re not just going to ignore it.”

READ ALSO: Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Although she isn’t completely healed, and said she never really will be, Jacobson has come a long way since the shooting and talks about it with others online, on podcasts and in speeches whenever she can. She has started writing a book as well which has helped her put her thoughts on paper and feel some catharsis.

Jacobson said she remembers everything from that concert in vivid detail – from the utter chaos of widespread panic to the chilling sound of bones shattering when struck by a bullet. She hopes to write all of it down so those who do read her book can get a better understanding of what being in a mass shooting feels like.

In the end, she hopes something good comes from her book, and that those who are kind enough to read it will feel some empathy for those who have experienced gun violence.

“Unless you can understand the horror, it’s hard to advocate with the necessary urgency for prevention,” Jacobson writes in her letter. “Until you’re touched by trauma you can’t understand it but, you can read it…experiencing trauma should not be a barrier of entry into empathy and action.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.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

World-class carver prefers the simple life

His work can be found in galleries around the world, but Kevin Peters prefers the quiet life.

A first in the Chilcotin: Tl’etinqox builds six-unit Elders complex

“It’s exciting,” says Chief Joe Alphonse

Under one roof: construction continuing on Williams Lake First Nation administration building

Glass and wood key elements of $8.9 million project located along Highway 97

B.C.’s top doctor thanks supporters after revealing threats over COVID-19 measures

Dr. Bonnie Henry says COVID-19 has caused some people to lash out in anger and frustration out of fear

2 British Columbians arrested, 3 at large in massive Alberta drug bust

Eight people are facing 33 charges in what police have dubbed Project Incumbent

Lumber hitting record high prices due to low supply and high demand

B.C.’s forest industry hasn’t been able to keep pace with the COVID-19 building boom

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

‘Monkey Beach’ supernatural film adaptation premiers at VIFF

Based on Kitamaat author Eden Robinson’s debut, mystical novel

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

B.C.-born Trybe social media app’s award system connects with Nickelback singer

Rock stars, jet planes, scooter tricks and the creation of a new platform ready for launch

PHOTOS: 2nd calf in a month confirmed among Southern Resident killer whale pod

Center for Whale Research said they will eagerly await to observe the calf to evaluate its health

B.C. VOTES 2020: Speculation tax misses speculators, B.C. Liberals say

Andrew Wilkinson, John Horgan clash over housing costs, solutions

Most Read