British Columbia

Woman found dead near Victoria park remembered for artistry, advocacy for homeless

Police say Bree Sara Gamble was a victim of homicide. Her family says she was an independent 'force' with a generous heart who leaves her beloved 17-year-old daughter behind.

'She was a force. She was the biggest thing in a room when she was in it,' says victim's ex

Bree Sara Gamble was known on social media as Brianna Sarita Lozano. She was 47 and had recently moved back to Victoria, B.C., when her body was found near Dallas Road on March 3, 2021. (Brianna Lozano/Facebook)

Family of a 47-year-old woman found dead near Dallas Road in Victoria, B.C., say she was a 'force' with a generous heart who leaves behind a beloved teenage daughter.

Bree Sara Gamble also known on social media as Brianna Sarita Lozano was found on the grass near a Dallas Road sidewalk around 6 a.m. on March 3. Officals have not released a cause of death.

Her father Jorge Lozano said police knocked on his door in Toronto to inform him of his daughter's death at 4:30 a.m. on March 4.

"It is very painful — extremely painful and it's really hard to describe," he said.

Lozano said police called the scene where she was found "oddly clean." Her jacket was done up. She carried no wallet or phone.

Within days police said Gamble's death is being investigated as a homicide. The Vancouver Island Major Crimes Unit has appealed to the public to provide any dashcam or security footage that may be helpful in solving the case.

Victoria homicide investigators are searching for witnesses in the areas described in the map above between the hours of 11 p.m. on Tuesday, March 2, and 5 a.m. on Wednesday, March 3. (Victoria Police Department)

Gamble returned to Victoria about a month ago to live in a rented home after living in Duncan on Vancouver Island, according to her family.

Her former partner Steve Lalonde said he and their 17-year-old daughter Meleya Gamble-Lalonde had been trying to get in touch with her and were shocked to learn of her death.

"She was tough. She was a boss of a woman," said Lalonde.

"She was a force. She was the biggest thing in a room when she was in it. If you ever met her — you never forgot her."

Grew up in Toronto

He said his ex had used drugs in the past, but as far as he knew she didn't struggle with addiction.

He described her as a hard worker who spent summers cooking at remote fishing camps on Northern Vancouver Island, and always filled a room with music or dancing.

"She grew up downtown Toronto. She grew up in city life. So she was not really afraid of anything."

Gamble's body was found metres from Beacon Hill Park, where homeless encampments have sprung up.

Bree Sara Gamble and her daughter Meleya Gamble-Lalonde, 17. (Steve Lalonde)

Lalonde said that Gamble was the first person to help if anybody had nothing and needed food or a coat.

Her father agrees, saying she had helped others since childhood — writing a song about homeless people when she was 16.

"She would invite homeless people to her house to feed them and to let them use her shower," said Lozano. "That was how Bree was."

Bree Sara Gamble, 47, was a talented painter, actor and singer who family say worked hard and was the first to help anybody in need. (Brianna Lozano/Facebook)

Lozano said he raised his daughter since the age of four and she was brought up with some of the traditions from Colombia where he was born — their home is always a meeting place for people to share company and food.

"This is somebody that inhabits [me]. Full of beautiful memories and the more beautiful the memory the more painful," said Lozano.

He said she showed talent as a singer, actor and knew a lot about food and cooking.

"All her life she had that critical mind — seeing things differently," said Lozano.

"She was kind of nomadic mentally — like going all over." He says his daughter was part of the "Queen Street scene" in her youth, as an artist, performing as a DJ — and cultivating a unique fashion.   

Later she spent a lot of time travelling alone, and had even spent time living in the jungles in Costa Rica and Colombia.

The father of her child said news that she was dead, and the suspicious nature of how and where her body were found, was a total shock.

"It was like she was just dumped there," said Lalonde.

An undated shot of Bree Sara Gamble near the ocean in Victoria B.C. (Brianna Lozano/Facebook)


Yvette Brend is a Vancouver journalist.