Skip to content

Trial begins for man charged in B.C. residential school march incident

Richard Albert Manuel is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle
People take part in a march in Mission, B.C., Saturday, June 4, 2022 in a handout photo. The trial began on Monday (March 4), for Richard Albert Manuel, who is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle after four people claimed they were hit by a pickup truck during the march. ( THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Robert Jago)

A trial began Monday (March 4) for a Deroche man charged after several people reported being struck by a pickup truck during a residential school march in Mission in June 2022.

Richard Albert Manuel was charged in November 2022 with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle.

The trial in Abbotsford provincial court began in the morning with police witnesses testifying about the accused’s statement, a search of the truck and other aspects of the investigation.

A pair of witnesses, Troy Zelasko and Jeremy Kaastra, testified that they were hit by a pickup truck near the entrance to St. Mary’s Residential School.

Kaastra, who was among those who organized the march, said between 100 and 150 people were marching into the entrance when he heard shouts that someone had been hit. He testified that a pickup truck was driving towards him and he had little time to react, so he tried to jump out of the way.

“It happened so fast,” Kaastra said.

He said he wasn’t asked to provide a police statement on the scene and reached out later to do so.

Zelasko testified that he wore high-visibility clothing and acted as a flagger during the march. He said the group of people marching included both children and elders.

Zelasko said he saw a blue Chevy pickup pass the yellow line on Lougheed Highway, racing towards him, and he held up a stop sign for the vehicle.

Zelasko said the driver came to a stop, yelled out the window, got out of the vehicle and said, “Stop with all this marching bullshit! (You) need to knock it off; people are tired of it.”

He testified that the driver got in his face, poked his forehead and grabbed him by the vest. Zelasko said he knocked the man’s hands away and the driver returned to his vehicle.

Zelasko then put his stop sign up and stood in front of the truck, according to the testimony. Zelasko testified that the driver said he would run over kids or anyone who was in his way. He said the truck then hit him on his right side and he was momentarily under the vehicle.

Zelasko said another marcher tried to take the keys, and the driver punched them in the face five or six times.

The incident took place on June 4, 2022 during a March for Recognition to raise awareness about children who attended residential schools. The march left Fraser River Heritage Park and was en route along Lougheed Highway to the former site of St. Mary’s Residential School.

At the time, Mission RCMP said an altercation had occurred between the driver of a pickup truck and members of the march, and four people reported they had been injured after the truck drove into them.

The driver of the truck later met with investigators, as did several witnesses.

The trial is scheduled for eight days, with Judge Edna Ritchie presiding.

READ MORE: Man charged 5 months after residential school marchers hit with pickup in Mission

Dillon White

About the Author: Dillon White

I joined the Mission Record in November of 2022 after moving to B.C. from Nova Scotia earlier in the year.
Read more