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Surrey, B.C (WNEWS EXCLUSIVE) – The family of Surrey Indigenous man is angry and upset after the death of Yannick Lepage, who passed away in Corrections Custody last week.
What started as an emergency call to an alleged assault in process in the Surrey Central Area has turned into a nightmare for the Lepage Family. Surrey RCMP responded to 104 Ave and City Parkway after neighbours called police due to an alleged commotion at Surrey’s house.
According to the change.org petition and Hope Devine, the niece of Yannick Lepage, early Sunday morning, July 11, Yannick was assaulted in his home. The alleged attacker, known to the victim, used a pair of bolt cutters as a weapon. As a result, Yannick took multiple blows to the back and top of his head, causing him to go in and out of consciousness.
Yannick’s significant other jumped on top of him to save his life after chasing the attacker out of the house. Hope had mentioned in a phone call that the alleged attacker was the roommate of the victim.
Surrey RCMP in a statement to WNews, officers responded to a report of a man pointing a firearm in the residence. Police attend as well as Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team due to the risk.
Yannick was taken into police custody without issue. Yannick was arrested for outstanding warrants and firearm-related charges, according to a statement by RCMP.
“On July 11, 2021, at 1:20am, Surrey RCMP responded to the report of a man pointing a firearm in a residence. Frontline police attended and activated the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team due to the elevated risk. After a period of negotiations, the individual was taken into police custody without incident. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant and multiple firearms-related charges. A search warrant was executed on the residence and numerous items were seized including a loaded firearm.” – Cpl. Vanessa Munn – Surrey RCMP Statement (July 27, 2021)
The mounties from Surrey RCMP arrived after a 911 call was made by a neighbour who heard the attack. When the RCMP arrived at the scene, Yannick’s significant other, the neighbours, and the landlord of the house they resided in were begging the RCMP to call an ambulance, explaining that Yannick was going in and out of consciousness needing medical attention right away.
Upon arrival, the responding officers found out that Mr. Lepage had an outstanding warrant after missing a recent court appearance for a charge for breach of a probation order.
Hope mentioned to WNews that RCMP didn’t interview the landlord, the witness, and the next-door neighbour who called the police. In addition, the roommate allegedly moved out the next day after grabbing his items from the house.
Instead of the police following protocol right away, they went inside the house, threatening to tear gas the house, cuffed Yannick, and trashed the place, smashing everything in sight. As a result, the house was left unliveable, and the family later threw the belongings in the house away.
Vanessa Munn of the Surrey RCMP in a statement to WNews, a search warrant was executed on the residence which numerous items were seized including a loaded firearm.
They brought Yannick outside, and an ambulance arrived on the scene. However, the paramedics refused to take Yannick to the hospital. Instead, they briefly took his vitals, claiming his blood pressure was normal, which the family know is not the case since Yannick suffered highly high blood pressure and was going in and out of consciousness.
In the RCMP Statement, the Yannick was transported to Surrey Memorial Hospital and was cleared for incarceration.
The paramedics from B.C. Emergency Health Services (B.C. EHS) made multiple derogatory comments while talking to officers in front of Yannick. Some of the statements made by the paramedic included, “what a waste of taxpayer’s money, “he’s f***ing stupid,” “goof,” and more. The paramedic left right after the paramedic made the comments. Surrey RCMP took Yannick into custody and was transported to Surrey Pre-Trial.
On July 12, Yannick complained to correction officers and his lawyer at Surrey Pretrial, stating he was in a lot of pain due to the assault, his vision was blurry, and his head felt “fuzzy.” Yannick requested medical attention numerous times during the day.
On July 13, Yannick was found unresponsive in his jail cell by the correctional officers. He was left in his cell without medical attention for 25 minutes as the correctional officers watched without trying to resuscitate him. Finally, when the paramedics arrived on the scene, they administered CPR. But, again, Yannick was left in his cell for 25 minutes with limited oxygen going to his brain after going into cardiac arrest.
The paramedics transported Yannick to Surrey Memorial Hospital right away. After he went into cardiac arrest two more times, he was put on life support and was exhausting every medical machine and medication possible. The hospital had placed Yannick in a medically induced coma as his heart was too weak and could not support the stress of him being awake.
The family and Yannick’s lawyer were not contacted at all by Surrey pretrial. However, the family found out Yannick was in the ICU by another inmate who had reached one of Yannick’s family members, saying they had heard Yannick was assaulted by the correction officers and was brought to the hospital. These accusations have yet to be confirmed by WNews. We have contacted Surrey RCMP for further comment.
Yannick had been in and out of trouble with the law for minor crimes due to his drug addiction. According to Hope, Yannick started using drugs after a major car accident in the mid-2000s. The doctors prescribed him oxycodone to help with the pain he was suffering after the accident.
Hope said that her uncle was not the perfect person, but he was trying his best to be the father and husband that he could be for his family. He didn’t need to suffer as he did.
“This is not just an everyday story of an assault; this is a strong indigenous man who was racially profiled on numerous occasions. A man who was not given a shot at life due to the generational traumas he faced. A man who, if Canada had the right resources for would have flourished. Sadly, that isn’t the case; Canada has done a wonderful job over the years of hiding what has happened and continues to happen to the indigenous people. The unjustified Systemic Racism of Indigenous people needs to end. We need to take a stand and fight for basic human rights; we need to come together as a community and get justice not just for Yannick but the tens of thousands of other indigenous people this has happened to.” – Change.org Petition by Hope Devine
After the family arrived at the hospital, they were unable to hold Yannick’s hand for hours. The correction officers there refused to un-handcuff Yannick from the hospital bed as requested by the nurses and the family.
Finally, when the correction officers did shift change, the new guards were more than understanding and un-handcuffed him as he was in a medically induced coma and could not leave.
After examining Yannick, the family found that he suffered from a possible broken arm, multiple bruises, and abrasions, which were not caused by the previous attack or from CPR. It is believed that the RCMP or correctional officers assaulted him as the injuries occurred after his assault.
Yannick passed away on July 16 after his organ began to fail and blood pressure dropped very low.
According to Hope, Yannick faced injustice and systemic racism many times due to being an indigenous male. He had been assaulted by the RCMP and correctional officers before. BC Correctional officers also withheld medical services on multiple occasions.
Hope believes that there’s injustice made by many members of the RCMP, Corrections Officers, and BC EHS concerning the death of her uncle. After the end of a close family member in police custody in the 2010s, the family called for an inquiry into the deaths and changes to be made.
The family wants to change how officers treat the Indigenous population and wants a new inquiry into the death of Yannick. They also wish the Independent Investigations Office (IIO) to investigate the actions and events leading up to the passing of Yannick.
Heaven Roth, Yannick’s Oldest Niece in a statement to WNews, said that Yannick was a loving and caring person who was the life of the party.
Roth mentioned that she is outraged that people in positions of authority could stand by and watch Yannick suffer.
“I am outraged to know that people in a position of authority could stand by and watch him suffer!”
“My uncle Yannick was a fun loving, caring, kind, selfless, life of the party man with a heart of gold.” – Heaven Roth – Yannick’s Niece
Yannick’s family wants changes and new laws so that no more Indigenous people have to die unnecessarily.
Canada’s Residential Schools and The Mass Burials Sites
The death of Yannick comes as Indigenous faces deep anger after the graves of over 2,000 and counting has been found across Canada at former residential schools sites over the last few months.
In May, a gravesite of 215 kids was found at a Kamloops Residential School, sparking massive outrage among the Indigenous community. In recent weeks, more than 1,665+ grave sites have been found across the country.
The residential school program was a partnership between the Canadian Government and the Catholic and Christian Church to force and eliminate Indigenous culture.
The residential school system harmed Indigenous children significantly by removing them from their families, depriving them of their ancestral languages, and exposing many of them to physical and sexual abuse.
In addition, students were subjected to forced enfranchisement as “assimilated” citizens that removed their legal identity as Indians. Disconnected from their families and culture and forced to speak English or French, students who attended the residential school system often graduated unable to fit into their communities but remained subject to racist attitudes in mainstream Canadian society.
The system ultimately proved successful in disrupting the transmission of Indigenous practices and beliefs across generations. The system’s legacy has been linked to an increased prevalence of post-traumatic stress, alcoholism, substance abuse, and suicide, which persist within Indigenous communities today.
“We don’t want any more indigenous people dying because of this or anyone at all. So we want to fight for new laws and regulations to be put in place and followed by everyone.”
Yannick left behind three beautiful children ages 22, 9, and 2. The family has set up a GoFundMe to support the wife and the kids during the hard times.
We have reached out to Surrey RCMP for a statement and they have provided details into what occured. We had also reached out to a B.C EHS spokesperson and they responded saying they were not aware of the situation and were looking into what occurred. However, we will publish any further information should we get an official statement either from RCMP or BC EHS.
Please contact The Indian Residential School Survivors Society toll-free 1 (800) 721-0066 or 24hr Crisis Line 1 (866) 925-4419 if you require further emotional support or assistance.
RCMP Statement to WNews:
“On July 11, 2021, at 1:20 am, Surrey RCMP responded to the report of a man pointing a firearm in a residence. Frontline police attended and activated the Lower Mainland Emergency Response Team due to the elevated risk. After a period of negotiations, the individual was taken into police custody without incident. He was arrested for an outstanding warrant and multiple firearms-related charges. A search warrant was executed on the residence and numerous items were seized including a loaded firearm.
Shortly after his arrest, the man was transported to Surrey Memorial Hospital where he was assessed by a doctor and determined to be medically fit for incarceration. He was subsequently transported to Surrey RCMP cells.
On July 12, 2021, custody of the man was transferred to Surrey Pretrial Service Centre operated by BC Corrections.” – Cpl. Vanessa Munn (Media Relations Officer of Surrey RCMP Media Relations Unit)
12:50 pm PDT (July 27, 2021) – Story updated with new information and details provided by Surrey RCMP as well as a statement.
9:40 pm PDT (July 24, 2021) – The story has been updated to clarify that the attacker was known to Yannick. We also provided an update that B.C EHS has been made aware of the story.
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