Truck driver charged after vehicle plows into crowd during residential school memorial march

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WARNING: This story contains disturbing details.

A man has been charged with a crime after the vehicle he was driving plowed into several people during a memorial march for residential school survivors in Mission, BC, earlier this year.

Richard Albert Manuel, 77, was charged Tuesday with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

Dozens of people marched down 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 racist comments and blatant threats before plowing into at least four people. They said he then left the scene.

One victim suffered a concussion and soft tissue injury to the hip. Another was taken to hospital.

In a statement days after the incident, RCMP initially said the driver was “impatient” and had tried to bypass the group “despite the safety risk.” The statement also said police did not believe the driver was targeting marchers or their cause, although they had not spoken to him.

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

Victims of alleged hit-and-runs speak out

The victims of an alleged hit-and-run during a march at a Mission school talk about their experience.

The characterization was widely condemned by those at the march as well as community leaders. It was later deleted from the RCMP website.

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

St. Mary’s operated in two different Mission locations for more than 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 reckoning.

The participants near St. Mary’s called for ground-penetrating radar to search the St. Mary’s site for possible burial sites of children who did not survive being forced into the institution.

Manuel is due in court on January 9.

SEE | March organizers claimed the RCMP made them vulnerable:

Mission march organizers claim RCMP made them vulnerable

Organizers of last weekend’s residential schools awareness march in Mission tried to have RCMP on site for traffic control. But their request was rejected. During the march, witnesses say that a pickup truck drove into a number of those present.

Support is available to anyone affected by their private school experience.

ONE National Indian Residential School Crisis Line has been set up 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 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, toll-free from anywhere in British Columbia. The KUU-US Crisis Line can be reached toll-free at 1-800-588-8717. Alternatively, individuals may call the youth line directly 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 offers immediate help to all Indigenous people 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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