PEI

4 charged after suspected racially motivated assault in western P.E.I.

RCMP in western P.E.I. have charged four men in connection with an alleged assault at a festival event in Abram-Village early in September.

Incident was reported after a P.E.I. Acadian Festival event in Abram-Village

The victims in the attack were immigrants from Algeria who had moved to the Évangéline region of P.E.I. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

RCMP in western P.E.I. have charged four men in connection with an alleged assault and vandalism in Abram-Village early in September.

Police were called to the Évangéline Recreation Centre at about 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 3, as an event connected to the P.E.I. Acadian Festival was wrapping up. Two men were injured and were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Some people who had volunteered at the festival also reported their vehicles had been vandalized in the parking lot. 

Local groups said the victims were immigrants from Algeria who had settled in the area, and called the attack racially motivated.

"Everybody you talked to after the incident, you know, was basically disgusted," said the mayor of Abram-Village, Roger Gallant. 

Gallant said people in the community talked about the attack for weeks, and added they need to learn from what happened. 

One of the people who was injured in the attack worked for the Coopérative d'Intégration Francophone, the provincial agency that helps French-speaking newcomers. The other was an employee at the French Daycare Association of P.E.I., which relies heavily on newcomers to fill positions within its system.

The P.E.I. advocacy group BIPOC USHR (which stands for Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour United for Strength, Home, Relationship) said the attack amounted to a case of Islamophobia.

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Within days, police had made four arrests, but more than two months later, this is the first news of charges against the men.

They are:

  • Darren Richard, 29, of Egmont Bay, has been charged with assault and uttering threats.
  • Samuel Bernard, 25, of Urbainville, has been charged with assault. 
  • Troy Gallant, 28, of Abram-Village, has been charged with assault. 
  • Tyson Arsenault, 23, of Wellington, has been charged with mischief, a Criminal Code offence associated with the damage of property.
The RCMP will continue to work with BIPOC Islanders to build safer communities, says East Prince RCMP Const. Gavin Moore. (Gabrielle Drumond/Radio-Canada)

Gallant said this incident does not represent his community. 

"We work constantly to bring new immigrants to our area, and show them who we really are," he said. 

"It's a good community and there's no room for that sort of behaviour."

An incident such as the one in Abram-Village has a profound effect, said RCMP Const. Gavin Moore. 

"It affects not only the victims directly who are involved, but it affects the community as a whole. And we work hard with every community partner, including the BIPOC community, to ensure that we are striving together for safe communities," said Moore.

Witnesses still sought

RCMP are still looking for witnesses to the incident.

At a community meeting held Sept. 7, the vice-president of the French daycare association, Patrick Buswell, said he hoped witnesses would come forward. 

Patrick Buswell, vice-president of the French Daycare Association of P.E.I., said in September that a lot of people in the community felt shame following the attack. (Rick Gibbs/CBC)

"Maybe they're scared of maybe sharing information, knowing that those assailants may get back to them," he said.

"I'm hoping that those witnesses decide to stand up to intimidation, to bullying, to violence… It's so important for the healing process, but also to identify the people who were part of those appalling actions."

Daycare worker moved away

The daycare worker who was injured in the attack moved out of the Évangéline region with his family shortly afterward because he no longer felt safe, officials with the daycare association said. 

Gallant said the other person injured in the attack has also left the community. 

Isabelle Dasylva-Gill, the executive director of SAFÎLE (Société acadienne et francophone de l'Î.-P.-É.), the main voice for the Acadian and francophone community of P.E.I., said in September that the move was not surprising. 

"You have to understand that, you know, people are coming here for safety…. The first reflex is to kind of get away from the danger zone," she said. 

With files from Laura Meader and Gabrielle Drumond

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