Shana Harris-Morris was killed Feb. 4. (GoFundMe photo)

Family of Surrey homicide victim calling for mental health care improvements

National advocacy groups looking to unite

The uncle of a woman who was victim of homicide earlier this year is looking to build a coalition of advocacy groups to call for changes to the policies, procedures, regulations, and legislation around child welfare and mental health.

On Feb. 4, Surrey RCMP responded to reports of shots heard in the 10800-block of 139A Street at approximately 7:30 a.m.

A man was found with non-life-threatening injuries, while Shana Harris-Morris was found in “grave condition.” Both were transported to hospital where Harris-Morris died.

While her uncle Ryan Morris, from Chilliwack, said he doesn’t know what led to his niece’s death, he acknowledged that she struggled with an opioid addiction. On many occasions, Morris said, he offered to find her help.

In a news release issued March 13, Morris said independent advocacy groups, including ‘I Am Shana’s Voice,’ are working together to help change how government handles mental health and child welfare.

“It appears that this current structure seems to guide all of us that are asking for and seeking help, in a complete circle,” Morris wrote. “This needs to change immediately. Every minute that these failures get ignored, someone dies from an overdose, suicide, or in the form of a violent act perpetrated against the victim. We are all tired of this. We cannot accept the Band-Aid solutions that are being suggested from our leaders. We need to open their eyes.”

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Morris said he has been networking with advocacy groups across the province and country. They have begun discussions about uniting as a coalition to effectively advocate for change, he added.

“I believe it to be a much better and more effective strategy. Rather than having 1,000 groups with 100 members, we are aiming to have a group of 100,000+ members. This (is) so our leaders will hear clearly what needs to be changed in our system.”

Morris said he’s been asked to join a public committee that’s being tasked with giving suggestions for amending the police act in terms of how it deals with mental illness cases.

“I have reached out to the RCMP to help me in this matter. These are the individuals tasked with dealing with our mentally ill. I would like to know their thoughts on what they feel needs to change. If you want to ask how the battle is going, you need to speak to the soldiers,” Morris said.

Following Harris-Morris’ death, her family started a GoFundMe to raise funds for a headstone. As of Sunday morning, the fundraiser had collected $7,195.