Man arrested after racist incident at Vancouver Island First Nation
VICTORIA -- One man was arrested after turning himself in following a racist incident that occurred on the Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni on Tuesday.
The incident involved several people in a truck driving through the Tseshaht reserve at approximately 1:30 a.m. “throwing debris, and yelling racist and derogatory comments,” according to police.
Part of the incident was recorded on video and spread through social media, sparking outrage.
Police launched an investigation and on Wednesday, a Qualicum man went to the Port Alberni RCMP detachment to turn himself in.
Mounties say that the man cooperated with police and was arrested. He has since been released from custody on multiple conditions, including a prohibition from going to the Tseshaht First Nation. Police say that he is now awaiting a court date that has yet to be determined.
“This type of behaviour is reprehensible, and repulsive,” said Sgt. Peter Dionne, operations officer of the Port Alberni RCMP.
“Luckily no one was hurt physically by this person’s actions, and the witnesses had the wherewithal to record the incident and forward it to the police for the investigation,” he said.
On Wednesday, members of the Tseshaht First Nation told CTV News that they hoped the incident could lead to a teaching moment for the community.
"My first emotion, like many, was very upset. It's been a wave of different emotions, you have sadness, you have anger, you have hope," said Cynthia Dick, the Tseshaht elected chief councillor.
“It's a wake-up call,” said Nasimius Ross, the man who posted the video to social media.
“It's a wake-up call to Port Alberni that this isn't tolerated anymore and that we're going to unite and stand together with this.”
Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions described the incident as heart-breaking and promised to address racism in the community.
Meanwhile, RCMP officers are extending their thanks to the Tseshaht First Nation for its call for cool-headedness after the incident.
“The Tseshaht Community and Band management’s public requests for calm and restraint have assisted the investigation and prevented this incident from escalating during this very sensitive time,” said police in a release.
“The Port Alberni RCMP detachment recognizes and respects their generosity of spirit and understanding in their guidance to the community and toward the suspects.”