Bowen Islanders are rising up to support a beloved local volunteer, dancer, artist, friend, partner and father injured in a violent incident August 3.
Gerald Morrisseau, 53, suffered severe injuries in an altercation on Trunk Road early Friday morning, which sent Morrisseau to the hospital. While the RCMP are still investigating the alleged assault, two men were arrested August 6 in connection with the incident.
As knowledge of Gerald’s injuries, which include head trauma, memory loss, and severe bruising, became public over the weekend, several means of supporting him and his family emerged.
Donations are pouring into a GoFundMe account, created August 5. In just three days more than 100 donors have contributed just under $10,000. Prayers, good wishes and love for the well-known islander fill the comments section of the page.
First Credit Union also opened an account on behalf of Gerald and his family Tuesday. Donations can be brought to the counter in person or, after hours, put in an envelope marked “Gerald” and placed in the deposit slot on the wall outside the bank. If you’d like your name included with the donation, the Credit Union asks that be noted on the envelope. Alternatively, e-transfers can be sent directly to Gerald’s email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Meal Train site has also been set up, so that community members can contribute prepared dinners for the family. While many concerned locals have already committed meals, some slots still remain open.
Gerald is a long-time islander, recognizable by his tall stature and known for his kind heart.
Among other things, the local father is an artist. He’s had shows on-island and has worked in many mediums, including leather, metal, bone, stone, glass and especially wood.
He has marched in parades and participated in festivals as one of the Black Sheep Morris Dancers, a local troupe of folk dancers, along with his partner Sadie.
While shock and anger have reverberated throughout the community in the wake of Friday’s events, especially on social media, Gerald’s friends have been sharing their admiration of the man.
“He is a big, tall man who stands out in a crowd for being uniquely himself,” said Sarah Haxby, who’s known Gerald for more than 25 years. “He has been a generous and positive contributor to the community for decades.”
“He has been the artist for the First Nations and Friends afterschool art club program that I run in my job as school coordinator,” said Haxby in an email. “Over the years he has worked on many projects with the students at Bowen Island Community School during, and after school, being kind, caring, giving and sharing.
“News of his injuries will impact many people in the community, including the many youth on the island who know Gerald and care about him.
“One of the first hand-drawn get-better cards dropped by his house was from a child.”
The investigation continues
While social media speculation swirls around last Friday’s events, the RCMP are still looking into what exactly happened.
“Initial investigation has determined that the incident started with a road rage incident between the driver of a 1999 red Jeep Wrangler and three pedestrians,” reads a Tuesday RCMP press release.
Gerald had been driving down Bowen Island Trunk Road to pick up his son from work at a local restaurant.
“Allegedly, the driver narrowly missed the pedestrians who were walking in the middle of the roadway, words were exchanged and a fight ensued between the pedestrians and the driver,” said the press release.
Gerald was transported to hospital with serious injuries that night.
Sgt. Janelle Shoihet later clarified that the incident was referred to as “road rage” because it was between a driver and pedestrians and was related to the driving.
Two of the pedestrians, men aged 35 and 32, who live on Bowen Island, had minor injuries. They were arrested Aug. 6 and later released. No charges have been laid in incident so far.
“Following this incident there has been significant social media activity and speculation,” said Sgt. Jeff Shore, commander of the Sea to Sky General Investigations in the press release. “We want to assure the community of Bowen Island that we are working hard to advance the investigation and ask for continued patience as the investigation progresses.”
The third person who was walking on the street, a woman, is also from the island.
The RCMP continue to investigate the incident and ask that anyone with information about the events Friday morning contact the local detachment at 604-947-0516, or, for those who want anonymity, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222- 8477.