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RCMP investigating altercation at Cowichan Aquatic Centre

North Cowichan also looking into incident

A viral video of parts of an altercation at the Cowichan Aquatic Centre on the evening of Saturday, March 23, spawned a rally at the centre on Tuesday afternoon and a torrent of anti-transgender sentiment on social media.

The partner of a man who used the women’s change room on March 23 acknowledged in an interview with CHEK News that he did so but said he was there to help her with their children because the family was in a hurry. She said they had planned to use the family changeroom, but the children went into the wrong room. She said her partner changed in a bathroom stall and was never naked in the public area.

An altercation ensued between the couple and several patrons who were concerned about the man using the women’s change room.

The man’s partner told CHEK News he does not identify as trans, but during the altercation he can be heard on the video saying “I could identify as a lady with a beard and there’s nothing you can do about that”, which sparked transphobic comments on social media.

The police are asking anyone who witnessed the disturbance to speak with investigators.

The incident took place at around 6:30 p.m. and North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP responded to a report of a disturbance/fight.

RCMP said in a press release that they located and identified everyone involved and gathered information for their investigation. Police said the incident remains under investigation and officers continue to gather and review evidence.

Any witnesses who were present at the time and observed the event are encouraged to call the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment at 250-748-5522.

The Municipality of North Cowichan, which runs the Aquatic Centre, said they are aware of the incident and are also investigating, to ensure compliance with municipal bylaws.

Barb Floden, communications manager for North Cowichan, said in a press release that the municipality takes issues of safety and security seriously “and works to ensure every person using a municipal facility feels safe and secure, regardless of gender or presentation.”

North Cowichan’s Respectful Spaces Bylaw includes a code of conduct that requires everyone using municipal facilities to treat others with respect, courtesy, fairness and equality.

“Members of the public who observe individuals who act in bad faith towards other patrons, or who contravene the Respectful Spaces Bylaw or the Code of Conduct [should] immediately report the incident or individual to facility staff so that the incident can be handled accordingly,” the release concluded.

Tuesday’s rally outside the Aquatic Centre drew more than 100 people. Organizers of the rally, a group called Canadian Citizens Against Crime and Public Drug Abuse, said it was to advocate for safe spaces for women and children.

About the Author: Cowichan Valley Citizen Staff

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