JAN 21, 2022 – On the morning of Wednesday, January 12, 2022, a Qualicum Beach man in his mid-70s was making omelettes for himself and his wife in their condo when they saw some people coming up the walk. His wife said, “I’ll get the door.” Suddenly he heard loud voices and saw six people, four uniformed RCMP officers followed by two people in plainclothes, thought to be social workers, “more or less forcing their way into our peaceful home.”
According to Trevor Wicks, “I was grabbed by two aggressive police officers who forced my arms behind my back. I was in complete shock and immediately asked, ‘what is going on?’ They yelled at me that if I struggled at all, I would be charged with resisting arrest. I wasn’t resisting. I tried to tell them that I needed to turn the heat off under the two frying pans. At the same time, I was being handcuffed.” He saw his wife Eileen, who has moderate dementia, being “roughly escorted into our living room, looking confused and scared. They wouldn’t even let me say a word to her!” says Wicks.
He recognized one of the six people who had come through the door, a woman named Maeris [last name being withheld]. “Eileen never wanted anyone to babysit her,” Wicks says, “and still doesn’t. But, about a month ago, we were convinced to try having a home care worker spend time with Eileen for an hour each Wednesday.” Shocked to see this woman now, Wicks said to her, “ ‘It’s you!’ and [the home care worker] said in a gruff voice, ‘it’s Wednesday, isn’t it?’ “
Then the RCMP “frog-marched me out of the house towards a squad car,” said Wicks.
“I was taken out into the rain, and told I would be transported to Comox [Valley Hospital in Courtenay, BC] for an examination by two doctors. They said I was being detained under the Mental Health Act. I tried to explain that I didn’t have any shoes on, just slippers. I had no wallet, no ID, or cash or keys for the house. They did bring me some runners [to wear] but they didn’t allow me to get anything else. They took away my keys too,” says Wicks.
“They put me in the back of a squad car with my hands tightly clamped behind me and very painful. I was wearing a watch with a metal expansion bracelet. The handcuffs were digging into the metal bracelet against my wrist. I glanced out through the rain-streaked windows,” says Wicks, “to see Eileen, my wife and best friend for almost 60 years, being led away from our home. As we drove away, I saw two other police cars parked on the street.”
“The shock and surprise was so intense,” says Wicks, “I am still emotional six days after it happened.”
In the squad car on the way to Comox, the RCMP told Trevor Wicks that his wife Eileen would be taken to hospital in Nanaimo. The 74-year-old man says he was given no information about why she was being taken away or why he “was being treated like a dangerous criminal.”
According to Wicks, at no time during or since this harrowing incident on January 12, 2022 have the RCMP officers or the social workers shown him a warrant or produced an order of any kind to support their actions, or even given a reason why this squad of six people entered the couple’s home without warning and without consent.
Released from Comox Valley Hospital, Wicks had to break into his own home upon return
Trevor Wicks says that they arrived at Comox Valley Hospital around 11 a.m. “Still in handcuffs, I was escorted into the hospital’s emergency room waiting area. I told the police I desperately needed to use the washroom. That took a while. The police said they first had to find a room to remove the handcuffs!” Wicks says he was later taken to [an examination] room “where I waited patiently from about 11:30 a.m. until about 3:00 p.m. for these doctors to arrive. Nobody would tell me what was going on.”
According to Wicks, two doctors eventually arrived, one of whom he describes as a young emergency physician and the other one, a geriatric psychiatrist. Wicks was interviewed by each doctor separately. “I asked each of the doctors why I was brought there, but they said they didn’t know! They appeared to be as mystified as I was [about] why I was there.” After the doctors left, Wicks said, “I asked the attending nurse if I was still detained. The nurse replied, ‘You were never admitted.’ “
Wicks says, “I asked the nurse, how am I supposed to get home? I don’t have my wallet or a vehicle, or even a jacket.” With tongue in cheek, Wicks suggested “if I leave now, I may be able to hitch a ride before it gets too dark.” After chatting with different staff, he says, “someone came up waving a piece of paper.” He was given a taxi voucher back to Qualicum Beach. The cost was $176. Wicks believes he arrived back home sometime after 4:00 p.m. He says, “it was getting dark, cold and still raining. My home was totally locked up, I had no keys and no phone. I climbed over a planter and was able to jimmy a window free to crawl into my own home.” Wicks says his first thought was that Eileen wasn’t there to share a hug.
Wicks says, “This is by far the most traumatic event of Eileen’s and my life. We’re honest and upstanding citizens, and we do not deserve to be treated in this way.” Wicks says he intends to do his best to ensure this does not happen to other people.
The authorities have been contacted for information but have not yet responded.
Local couple well known in the community… the fallout continues
Long-time residents of Qualicum Beach, the couple is well known in the community, particularly for their volunteer contributions. They had 17 foster children and ran a designated facility for troubled teens. They share a love for and interest in protecting the environment. Their efforts to maintain Qualicum Beach’s waterfront are appreciated by many local residents and visitors, but not by Town staff who threatened the couple with legal action for cleaning up the beach area, as reported Dec 2, 2021 in Town threatens lawsuit over couple’s efforts to make beach safer, cleaner.
Close friends of the couple are distraught and horrified. They describe Wicks as “still deeply traumatized” by the shocking incident and, especially, the sudden removal of his wife. Wicks says, “just a few minutes before this all happened, Eileen said to me, ‘Trevor, I need a hug.’ ” The couple is known for their loving relationship, undiminished by her memory and cognitive decline. “We have been friends of Trevor and Eileen for many years,” says Sue Garner, “having moved back to the U.K. after living in Qualicum Beach for ten years. A more loving couple would be hard to find. I find this apparent very heavy-handed approach to both of them difficult to comprehend.”
Although he holds Power of Attorney for his wife Eileen and is her legal substitute decision maker according to her Representation Agreement, Trevor Wicks says he was not contacted by the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital (NRGH). And, initially, NRGH only permitted their daughter, who resides in Qualicum Beach, to visit Eileen. It was not until five days later that the hospital permitted Mr. Wicks to see his wife. “She isn’t the same person now,” Wicks says after his first visit with her. He fears for her well-being and safety now. “She says she doesn’t want to be there.” He says that his wife has always said she did not want to ever have to live in an institution. Wicks explained that his wife Eileen’s wishes are expressed in legal documents drawn up back when she was still deemed capable to do so.
According to Wicks, on Saturday January 15, NRGH doctors and social workers apparently told the couple’s daughter that they could see no reason to keep Eileen in hospital, but could not release her until Monday because “some information was missing from her chart,” and the discharge had to be signed off by staff who didn’t work weekends. On Monday, January 17 Wicks was told by his daughter that apparently “Parksville social workers have taken custody” of Eileen, but that NRGH would discharge her back home the following day, on Tuesday.
On Tuesday, January 18, Trevor Wicks went to the hospital, expecting to bring Eileen home. To his shock, “they said she was confined to the hospital for seven days!”
Wicks says, “I think they are trying to claim that I am not capable, but they won’t come right out and say so. All we need is a couple hours a week of respite [from Home Care support] to take Eileen out for a walk or a drive but they won’t do that. [Social workers] told me they can’t walk with Eileen around the condo development because there are no sidewalks, and they aren’t allowed to go out [with clients] for car rides. All the care worker would do is sit on the chesterfield with Eileen and read or play music,” said Wicks in exasperation. He says he still has not received any documents stating why Eileen is not allowed back home, or who made that decision.
Despite the clamour about pandemic related hospital bed and staffing shortages across BC and hospital procedures being halted or curtailed, Eileen is being detained by the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital in a private room with a 24/7 staff “companion” — against her wishes and that of her husband, Trevor Wicks, her caregiver and legal substitute decision maker.
“She’s not even allowed to go outside [of the hospital]! Eileen needs to be outside and in the community. She is absolutely devastated and distraught,” he says.
Police criticized for increasing use of unlawful warrantless entries and excessive force
Sources say that incidents of so-called “no-knock, warrantless entry” of private homes by authorities are not uncommon, and appear to be on the rise. Over the last several years, the public has become familiar with stories of “wellness checks” by squads similar to the one that entered the Qualicum Beach home of Trevor and Eileen Wicks on January 12, 2022.
While Canadian laws do permit authorities to enter the private homes of people without warning or pre-sanctioned orders, legally, such exceptions apply only in very specific instances where the risk of harm is deemed imminent. According to Toronto lawyer Adam Weisberg, “law enforcement officers can enter your home if they have a search warrant for the home or an arrest warrant for someone in the home.”
“There are also non-warrant exceptions,” says Weisberg, vice-president of the Ontario Criminal Lawyers Association. “During exigent [exceptional] circumstances, the police may enter to prevent someone from being seriously injured or killed, or to prevent the imminent destruction or loss of evidence.”
But, says Weisberg, “it is important to note that unwarranted searches are considered by the courts to be presumptively unreasonable.”
The following article, No Knock Entry, authored by the Editorial Board of the Globe and Mail newspaper on November 29, 2020, begins with this disturbingly familiar scenario:
“Imagine you’re at home, watching TV with your spouse. Without warning, armed men wearing balaclavas smash through your front door with a battering ram. They throw a “flash-bang” grenade into the hallway. It explodes with an ear-shattering force, and spews a disorienting plume of smoke and sparks. The intruders yell “Police! Don’t move!” and charge in with their semi-automatic rifles pointed at you. They order you to the floor and handcuff you.
“What you’ve just experienced is what police in Canada call a dynamic entry. That euphemism hardly describes the violence of this tactic… ” READ the full article below.
“Police in Canada execute hundreds of no-knock raids each year, The Fifth Estate has learned. The controversial tactic, also called dynamic entry, involves heavily armed police who enter a home unannounced when they believe the suspect might be armed or destroy evidence. In Canada, once police get their search warrant approved, they get to decide if they will barge in. But experts worry this tactic is trampling on people’s charter rights and say more oversight is needed.”
WATCH The Fifth Estate documentary When police don’t knock.
Similar assaults on older members of our society are increasing, but most incidents are kept well out of the public eye due to the power and control exerted by authorities, the virtual absence of consequences, and the lack of meaningful oversight.
Correction — A quote by a friend of the Wicks was mistakenly attributed to Marie Gait in the original publishing of this story. The friend’s comments were made by Sue Garner.
The author of this article is a former elder rights advocate, with a decade of experience protecting seniors and their families across Canada from healthcare and government abuse.
READ FOLLOW-UP STORIES
Feb 14, 2022: Nanaimo Hospital ignores FOI request for records, Eileen Wicks still detained, allegations surface
Mar 13, 2022: Eileen Wicks begs to go home, Island Health refuses to release records, MLA’s questionable comments
Jun 30, 2022: Eileen Wicks’ case takes sharp turn on legal front, publication bans questioned