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Person shot by RCMP officer remembered with touching mural and memorial service

27-year-old Dani Cooper was shot and killed by a police officer at a residence in North Vancouver last month.

More than 300 people turned out for a memorial service on Saturday to mourn the loss of Dani Cooper, a 27-year-old who was shot and killed by police in North Vancouver last month.

Held at the North Shore Unitarian Church, the Celebration of Life service saw 200 people attend and more than 170 others tune in online to witness friends, family and fellow community members pay their respects.

“The amount of people who have reached out to us with their love and support has been almost overwhelming,” said father Dennis Cooper on Tuesday.

As crowds congregated in North Vancouver, fellow mourners in Victoria were paying homage through the creation of a vibrant mural. A beaming portrait of Dani, painted onto the bright blue edifice of local cafe and bakery Wildfire, is accompanied by the words “people in crisis deserve support and dignity” – an ode to Dani’s courage and positivity in the face of adversity.

Dani, who was non-binary and also went by the name of Maiken, had been an active part of local activist communities on the North Shore and on Vancouver Island, where they had studied social justice at the University of Victoria.

As a teenager, they attended Seycove Secondary and chaired the B.C. Youth Adult Committee (BC YAC) – a youth-led body that provides recommendations about services and policies for young people – before going on to lead workshops and panel discussions on everything from gender to intergenerational solidarity as an adult.

“Dani was a trans person with a wise, playful, and passionate soul who cared about everyone and everything,” said Cooper, adding how they unconditionally loved and supported all people in their life, “even when they were going through hard times themselves.”

He said Dani was invested in community and bettering the world around them, “writing and organizing and supporting marginalized groups,” and was particularly vocal about policing not being a solution to poverty and trauma.

On Nov. 12, Dani died following an encounter with police at a Hamber Place residence in North Vancouver. At the time, North Vancouver RCMP said they were called to an incident involving a woman “trying to attack another person with a weapon” in the 3700-block, shortly before receiving a second, separate report of a person trying to break into somebody’s home.

A statement at the time said police believed the same individual was at the centre of both incidents. Attempts to take Dani into custody “were not successful” and a confrontation led to an officer discharging their firearm, police said.

Police later acknowledged that their release used the wrong gender for Dani and apologized.

Further details of how the situation unfolded remain unknown, and an investigation has been launched by the Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia.

“There has been an outpouring of love, but there has also been a massive outpouring of anger,” said Cooper. “Neither the RCMP nor the Independent Investigations Office have been transparent with our family about what happened, but we know one of the five-plus armed officers present decided that this barely five-foot-tall, 90-pound person was a threat and worthy of lethal force.”

Cooper, who issued his grievances at a police committee meeting last week, said he hopes the outrage felt by the community will work to quicken the investigation into Dani's death. A loss that, to family members and their sweeping circle of friends, "still feels like a strange nightmare." 

Mina Kerr-Lazenby is the North Shore News' Indigenous and civic affairs reporter. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

MKerrLazenby@nsnews.com
twitter.com/MinaKerrLazenby