Family and friends of Samwel Uko gathered Friday night to commemorate the anniversary of his death at Wascana Lake.
The 20-year-old former football player was found dead in the water just hours after seeking help at a Regina Hospital.
Family friend Muna De Ciman says Samwel’s preventable death was a result of racial bias and the stigma around mental health.
“Nobody knows why he was there, but he was telling them I need help,” said De Ciman. “But people had made up their mind that I’m not going to take you serious because you’re black. I’m not going to beat around the bush, this was all about who came to the hospital, and how he was looking. Of course, he was looking not in his best suit, because he was sick.”
Surveillance video from that day shows Uko screaming for help while being removed from the emergency room by security.
Uko’s family has launched a lawsuit against the province, claiming they failed to protect Samwel in his most valuable state.
Since Samwel’s death, the Saskatchewan Health Authority has issued an apology, and committed to an inquest into the circumstances of his final day.