Last July, Campbell River RCMP officers locked their cars around Jared Lowndes, 38, in a Tim Hortons parking lot, attempting to stop his car due to an outstanding warrant for his arrest. . In the resulting altercation, officers shot Lowndes multiple times, killing him. Lowndes was from the Laksilyu Clan of the Wet’suwet’en Nation. At the time of his death, he was struggling with the trauma he had endured as a child in the foster care system. He expressed his fear of the police in an essay he wrote days before his death.
Today Jared’s mother Laura Holland remembers her son. She and other Indigenous parents and family members who have lost loved ones to the police have produced artwork in remembrance of those they lost in an exhibit currently on display at the Gachet gallery in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver.
The launch of the exhibit coincided yesterday with the 25th International Day Against Police Brutality. Called honor their namesthe exhibit features memorial artwork made by families of those who have passed away, as well as gallery events that connect people through workshops and a community feast.
“I am a black man. I understand that despite my struggle, I still have a responsibility to the original people of these lands. I’ve found that as curator the least I can do is highlight those voices and make them heard when I have the chance,” said Moroti George, Curator and Programming Coordinator from the Gachet Gallery.
George hopes the exhibit will shed light on contemporary Indigenous cultural values and practices while highlighting policy flaws that “have caused harm and death to Indigenous organizations and other POC organizations that happen to be marginalized in the Canadian state”.
As the CBC reported in its interactive report on fatal encounters with police in Canada, Black and Indigenous people are “grossly overrepresented” among fatal encounters with police in Canada despite making up a small percentage of the total population.
Back at the Gachet Gallery, George considers the art on the wall. There is a collection of posters, banners and blankets from Wet’suwet’en demonstrations, protests against police brutality, and canvases with Indigenous designs and the names of Indigenous people killed by police.
“Laura [Holland] made a good point to make sure [people know] that she is not the only mother [who] lost a child to the police and politics of Canada,” George said. “It shows how multifaceted and insidious policing is right now.”
Anyone who has lost someone they love knows that grief is not about finding silver linings in the clouds. But in honor their names“There’s a kind of solace that can be found in the way these works show community,” George says.
“That’s something this project really showed me: the community and how people engaged with this project. It fills me and it also fills Laura with a sense of hope.
‘Honoring Their Names’ is on view at Gallery Gachet (9 W. Hastings St., Vancouver) from 12-6 p.m. through March 19.