Protesters at Vernon courthouse decry violence against women

'Shame on Canada'

Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz and Nicole Bell. All four women have gone missing from the North Okanagan – but their memory remains alive through the efforts of violence against women protesters who were once again at the Vernon courthouse, Thursday.

The protest coincided with a court appearance by Curtis Wayne Sagmoen, who is facing a charge of assault on a police officer.

Sagmoen has a history of convictions of violent acts against women and has become a lightning rod for anti-violence protesters.

More than 20 people gathered at the courthouse Thursday, among them was murdered and missing indigenous women advocate Gladys Radek.

Radek travelled from Terrace to show support and to keep the memory of the missing women in the forefront.

Radek lost a niece on the Highway of Tears in 2005 and has long said no area of B.C. is immune to such acts of violence.

“There are women that are going missing and being murdered right across Canada,” Radek said. “But in B.C., the numbers are considerably higher, so I am here to support the families.”

Several people spoke at the rally, among chants of 'Justice now' and 'Shame on Canada.'

Radek said racism is at the root of a lot of the problems.

Sagmoen has appeared in a Vernon courthouse numerous times over the past few years, and has been convicted of violence acts against sex trade workers.

His latest charge stems from an incident on Oct. 29, 2020, the same evening police executed a search warrant at Sagmoen's parent's Salmon River Road property, where he currently lives.

Police did not say why they were at the property, which has been the focus of police attention on several occasions.

Police were also there earlier that month after they were alerted to suspicious activity at the farm.

The assault charge is the latest in a string of charges against Sagmoen.

On Feb. 11, 2020, Sagmoen was convicted of assault causing bodily harm after running over a sex trade worker with a quad on the Salmon River Road property.

In December 2019, Sagmoen was found guilty of of disguising his face with intent to commit an indictable offence, using a firearm during an offence, and possession of methamphetamine. He was released the same day due to time served.

The farm near Silver Creek was also where Traci Genereaux's remains were discovered in October 2017. While police have called her death suspicious, no one has been charged.

Recently, someone spray painted a warning to sex trade workers on Salmon River Road, not too far from the farm.

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