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News - All - 2 Feb 2019

News Item 12 of 4509 

Miscellaneous: 2 Feb 2019
Man killed by police was ‘beautiful soul’

Greg Ritchie was fatally shot by police on Friday in Ottawa. - Facebook

KITCHENER — A 30-year-old man killed in a police shooting in Ottawa Thursday was well-known in Waterloo Region's Indigenous community.

Greg Ritchie, who was shot in an early morning confrontation at a mall, had lived in Cambridge for years and was often involved in Indigenous ceremonies at Conestoga College and elsewhere in the region.

He had moved from the Saugeen First Nation, on Lake Huron, to Waterloo Region when he was in his late teens to be closer to some of his family.

Friends at Conestoga College planned a drum circle in his memory Friday. Ritchie was not a student at the college, but was closely connected with many Indigenous students there and was a regular, welcome presence on campus.

"It is with a heavy heart to announce the passing of one of our Fire Keepers, Greg Ritchie. Over the years we have grown to know Greg as a beautiful soul with a passion for cultural preservation and strong connection to the land," Conestoga's Aboriginal services department said, in a statement.

"From his dedication to Fire Keeping at Conestoga's Annual Traditional Pow Wow, to our Wednesday Lunch visits, to sharing his experiences on his vision quest, Greg was always a welcoming face at Aboriginal Services. Our prayers are with the family at this time."

Ritchie was also involved in the Healing of the Seven Generations, an organization dealing with the effects of the residential school system. He took part in ceremonial first paddles on the Grand River in a traditional birch bark canoes, and was known for his pride in his Ojibwe heritage.

Ritchie's sister-in-law Chantel Ritchie said he had recently moved with his brother and her to Ottawa. He had struggled with mental illness for much of his life, she told the CBC.

Ritchie, who was removed from his mother's care as an infant and placed in a foster home, had survived stints of homelessness, past suicide attempts and was on medication for his illness, according to his sister-in-law.

When he first came to Waterloo Region, he still held on to the hope that his mother would be able to take him back to the reserve.

"I'm going back north when my mom comes to get me," Ritchie told a Record photographer who met him walking on the edge of the Grand River in 2009.

"She moved back there because she said she needs some time to herself."

The pair were later reunited when his mother Linda Ritchie moved back to Waterloo Region. She died at the Grand River Hospital's Freeport site in June 2015 and is buried on the Saugeen reserve. She was 48.

Online audio from the emergency dispatch calls from the mall Thursday morning indicated a man was seen walking into the building holding a knife in his hand. Ritchie was reportedly going to the pharmacy to refill a prescription, according to his family.

The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) later confirmed the man was holding a weapon, but did not specify what it was. The agency also said a police officer suffered minor injuries during the altercation.

One of the Ottawa officers involved in the shooting, Const. Thanh Tran, was charged with assault causing bodily harm by the SIU following the arrest of an intoxicated 50-year-old homeless man in 2011. He was later aquitted.

Witnesses at the scene of Ritchie's killing said a man was shot multiple times in the chest.

"It just breaks our heart because the very fear we had happened today, and we heard it, and we saw it, and there was nothing we could do about it, and we were right there," Chantel Ritchie told the CBC.

gmercer@therecord.com

Twitter: @MercerRecord

gmercer@therecord.com

Greg Mercer Waterloo Region Record/Twitter/AA
 

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