According to his family, Barrett Jack was not a saint. He was a young man deep in the clutches of addiction and crisis, but they had an expectation he would be safe in jail.
This was not to be, as Jack took his own life Sunday, Sept. 4 while on remand in the cells of the RCMP detachment in Smithers.
On Sept. 7, at 8:55 p.m., the time at which Jack was found in medical distress in the cells three days earlier, his family and friends gathered to hold a candlelight vigil in his honour at the detachment
The crowd of approximately 200 were mostly quiet, some cried, others simply asked why.
Many others said they were trying to deal with the shock and tragedy of it all. Several times during the vigil people held their candles skyward and yelled, “we love you Barrett.”
Two RCMP officers attended the vigil, but remained in the background, wanting to show their respect to the family and not intrude, detachment commander Mark Smail said.
The two RCMP stayed to talk with the immediate family members in private, after the vigil.
Jack’s Aunt, Charmaine Nikal told The Interior News that for the first time in a long time, they weren’t worried about him.
“We didn’t have to worry while he was in the care of the RCMP, a place that should’ve kept him safe,” Nikal said.
His family wants to know how this could have happened. During the vigil, this question was repeated many times.
His many extended family members spoke of a young man who was deeply loved, but an individual who felt trapped in the cycle of addiction.
He wanted to get sober and go to rehab, one of his uncle’s remarked during the ceremony, but he couldn’t overcome his demons.
“We do not condone the behaviours that led to his arrest, but we had hopes that he would be able to get the help he needed to turn his life around,” said his uncle Barry Nikal. “We never expected, or imagined he could die in jail, no one could anticipate that, and all of his family wants to know what happened.”
“Nobody should be brought into a police station and not come back out alive,” he added.
Jack was arrested and detained on Sept. 1, after a break, enter and assault was reported at a Telkwa residence, which allegedly resulted in a high-speed chase with the RCMP in the Telkwa area.
According to court records, Jack was remanded into custody on Sept. 2, facing several charges, including break and enter with intent to commit an indictable offence, flight from police, dangerous operation of a conveyance and two motor vehicle theft charges.
Vigil participants shared many happy memories of Jack during the candlelight ceremony. Speakers talked of his love for his daughter and family and for fastball, being outdoors, and of the good friend he was to others.
“Barrett was one to live life to the fullest, teaching us how to have fun and laugh. He carried a smile for others even when he was down,” his aunt Charmaine said.
“This is tragic for our whole family and community.”
The B.C. Independent Investigations Office is conducting an investigation.