A B.C. woman reported facing racial slurs while praying for residential school victims. The RCMP never took her statement.
VANCOUVER -- When Tara Aleck (Nyce) came out onto her front steps at her Pemberton home on May 31, her intention was to honour the 215 children found buried at the Kamloops residential school, and her parents, both survivors of that same school.
She brought sage to add to her smudge bowl, a candle, and a small stuffed toy in the children’s memory. But in the middle of her prayer, she was suddenly accosted by two men in a truck, who were laughing and using racist slurs.
“I kind of was really emotional, just praying for my dad and my mom and all the kids, and these guys drove by and they were laughing, calling me derogatory names,” she said. “I just couldn’t believe it. I was shocked.”
Aleck (Nyce) ended up calling the RCMP after friends and family encouraged her to report what had happened. She said a constable told her he would come and take her statement.
“He never came,” she said. “I waited two, three days, and he never came.”
She said after advocates reached out to the RCMP on her behalf, she was contacted and told the police had spoken to the suspects, and the case had been concluded.
“I was devastated, “ she said. “My voice wasn’t being heard. I basically didn’t matter at that point.”
Aleck (Nyce) ended up sharing her story online, with support from a family friend. She said when media called the RCMP asking for a response, she heard from them yet again, this time from the officer in charge of the Sea to Sky detachment, Insp. Robert Dykstra.
“He basically had told me how appalled he was about how my file was handled,” she said, and added the RCMP were now going to review how her report was dealt with, as well as reexamine her initial complaint. “Basically I was told there was going to be some changes made.”
In a news release, Dykstra said the file had been concluded without obtaining a statement from Aleck (Nyce), though the suspects were visited by an officer.
“We are grateful that she conveyed her concerns to us,” he said. “We shared our concerns with her about the way the file was handled and we assured her that a complete review of the file will occur and will be shared with the complainant to discuss next steps.”
Aleck (Nyce) is hoping that there will be some accountability, and that her story will help lead to change.
“Being treated the way I was is something I never want anyone else to feel. It’s degrading,” she said. “I do want to have a voice. I do want to speak up, and I want others to speak up, too if they see or witness something that’s not appropriate…we’re the change that needs to happen, our voices.”
She is also planning on redoing her vigil at some point.
“I’ve heard stories from my own dad about all the abuse he suffered, and it didn’t define him. He ended up being a political leader, an activist. He fought for his people, he gave us a good life,” she said. “I was raised to value and love all races. I think that collectively us as Canadians should be working together to make Canada a better place.”