Brie Jacobson survived the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting in Las Vegas in 2017. Now, she’s taken to writing and activism to help inspire change. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Saanich woman who survived Las Vegas shooting turns to writing, activism

‘I was stripped of my innocence…other Canadians died,’ the survivor said.

Two years ago, Saanich woman Brie Jacobson and her best friend were in the middle of a concert at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas.

It is also when Jacobson said a part of her died. She and her friend watched dozens of people get shot right in front of their eyes as one of the largest mass shootings in modern U.S. history unfolded before them. Fifty-eight people died and over 400 were wounded.

“That night was hell,” Jacobson wrote in a letter this week.

After the events, Jacobson went from being a full-time student to going to a full-time therapy patient, faced with questions like “how did this happen” and “how could this man have access to those weapons and ammunition?”

After graduating with a communications degree from Royal Roads University shortly after the shooting, the Saanich resident has taken to writing and using her words to fuel activism.

READ ALSO: ‘We’ll keep coming every year’: Family honours B.C. man killed in 2017 Las Vegas shooting

“As Canadians we’re lucky we get to exist in a world without fear of gun violence versus our American neighbours who have to live in fear that it could happen again,” Jacobson said. “It’s foolish to say there’s nothing to do to prevent (gun violence)…no gun no problem.”

For Jacobson, turning to activism was a natural fit. She said it’s something she’s been drawn to since she was young, always wanting to find solutions to try and make something better. Now, she’s hoping she can start and maintain conversations about gun violence and gun laws, holding those in power to account.

“With an election coming up in Canada and the US, we need to remember that we’re hiring people to do a job and if they didn’t do their job properly in any other scenario they’d be fired,” Jacobson said.

While many people have questioned why Jacobson is getting involved U.S. issues, Jacobson argues that her horrific experience brings her into the debate.

“I was stripped of my innocence…other Canadians died,” she said. “If you impede on our safety when we’re a guest in your country, you’ve revoked the right to say we’re not included in the conversation…if you see that your neighbour’s house is on fire you’re not just going to ignore it.”

READ ALSO: Las Vegas shooter acted alone, exact motive still undetermined: Sheriff

Although she isn’t completely healed, and said she never really will be, Jacobson has come a long way since the shooting and talks about it with others online, on podcasts and in speeches whenever she can. She has started writing a book as well which has helped her put her thoughts on paper and feel some catharsis.

Jacobson said she remembers everything from that concert in vivid detail – from the utter chaos of widespread panic to the chilling sound of bones shattering when struck by a bullet. She hopes to write all of it down so those who do read her book can get a better understanding of what being in a mass shooting feels like.

In the end, she hopes something good comes from her book, and that those who are kind enough to read it will feel some empathy for those who have experienced gun violence.

“Unless you can understand the horror, it’s hard to advocate with the necessary urgency for prevention,” Jacobson writes in her letter. “Until you’re touched by trauma you can’t understand it but, you can read it…experiencing trauma should not be a barrier of entry into empathy and action.”

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Warning issued after several overdoses in Castlegar

Interior Health says the overdoses appear to be the result of cocaine contaminated with fentanyl.

Mainstreams completing planting project along Mark Creek

The project is part of their initiative to educate the community about Kimberley’s watershed

Kootenay-Columbia candidates attend Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce 2019 election forum

About 120 people attended the Creston Valley Chamber of Commerce 2019 election forum on Oct. 16 at the Prince Charles Theatre.

Green and NDP candidates talk strategic voting at Nelson public meeting

Wayne Stetski and Abra Brynne traded ideas but made no concessions for this election

Kimberley Riverside Campground will remain a campground, Mayor McCormick says

There will be terms to any sale of Bootleg Gap or Riverside

WATCH: Mobile glass blowing studio sets up shop in Kimberley

Mountain Grass Glass Gallery and The Glass House Experience team up to offer glass blowing workshops

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

Canucks hang on for 3-2 win over Rangers in New York

Vancouver scores three times in first period

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

B.C. VIEWS: How to get the best deal on your ICBC car insurance

ICBC slowly being dragged into the 21st century

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

ELECTION 2019: Federal leaders hit final 24 hours of campaign

Many leaders remain in B.C. for the final hours of the campaign

Most Read