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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Section of Island Highway north of Nanaimo isn’t safe

I hope politicians will do something about this issue, says letter writer

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Latest scam going around claims credit card misuse

Scam involves someone calling to report fictitious purchases on a credit card, says letter writer

Proposed 76-unit residential development would neighbour north Nanaimo mall

Council approves first and second reading of re-zoning application for 4961 Songbird Pl.

Map on Elections Canada site sends voters to Cedar landfill

Address for polling station correct, but Google Map address differs

Nanaimo software designer creates hunting-themed card game

Duck Buck Moose involves skill, cunning and luck of the draw

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates compare, contrast platforms on debate stage

Energy policy, veterans’ affairs and more debated Thursday at Beban Park

Canadian Snowbirds plane crashes before air show in Atlanta

Pilot lands safely after ejecting from jet

Share crash data, private insurers tell David Eby, ICBC

B.C. monopoly makes drivers retrieve their own records

Vancouver Island doctor rushed to help Hurricane Dorian victims days after his retirement

Potts was asked by Samaritan’s Purse to help at a field hospital in Freeport

Nanaimo-Ladysmith candidates share priorities and reasons for running

Eight of nine candidates in the riding respond to Black Press questionnaire

South Nanaimo cabin containing mining artifacts burns down

Cabin was unoccupied at time of incident, say firefighters

B.C. VIEWS: Wolf kill, not backcountry bans, saving caribou

B.C.’s largest herds turn the corner from extinction

Pearson nets shootout winner as Canucks clip Flyers 3-2

Vancouver picks up second straight home win

Most Read