Bob Mackin, theBreaker.news and Ina Mitchell, contributor
Joe Clemente says he never leaves his Salt Spring Island home without his camera.
“You never know what next surprise you’ll catch on video,” Clemente told CTV News Vancouver reporter David Molko in an interview.
Artist Clemente is known locally as “Banana Joe,” for growing tropical fruit and plants on the island. He was driving on northern Salt Spring in March 2018 when he came across about 50 people marching in military camouflage fatigues and boots. Clemente’s 35-second video shows they were primarily women, apparently Chinese.
“Not a lot of things shock me, but that shocked me. We don’t have any military bases here,” Clemente said, still wondering if he happened upon training for a cult.
“If it was hippies with dreadlocks I wouldn’t even think twice about it, we have a lot of earthy people out here, I’d say oh just a bunch of hippies out on a march. This was completely different.”
Another area resident, Kathy Weisner, was gardening when she spotted what she thought were cadets training one afternoon the week before Clemente’s experience. Their commander barked instructions in a language other than English.
Clemente said he had heard rumours of a large group booking at Mineral Springs Resort, a secluded, seaside getaway. A joint investigation by theBreaker.news and CTV News Vancouver reveals the owners’ connections to companies and real estate in Langley and Surrey, including a crime scene in Grandview Heights.
Bo Fan, a 41-year-old who came to Canada from China in February 2019, was the victim of murder on June 17. RCMP initially pinpointed a property on 27th Avenue, the headquarters of Create Abundance International Institute Inc., which owns Mineral Springs, the venue for the boot camps.
“That is very strange that it is connected to this place here on our island,” Clemente said.
A manager at the resort said he did not have direct contact for the owners, but said he would pass along a request for comment.
A source connected to Peace Arch Hospital told theBreaker.news that Fan had been badly beaten and her injuries included a broken femur, possibly the result of being struck by a vehicle. She had been taken to the emergency ward around 5:30 a.m. by her brother and sister-in-law. Sgt. Frank Jang of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team told Molko that both have co-operated with detectives.
Fan was employed by Create Abundance and its affiliate Golden Touch. The multi-level marketing organizations are based on a spiritual, psychological and financial philosophy book.
Since releasing photographs of Fan on June 24, Jang said clues have come in, but not enough. Detectives are still trying to piece together her final days and hours. They hope more people — perhaps her clients — will come forward.
“We’re not as close as we want to be in uncovering what happened to Ms. Fan,” Jang said.
That is not to say they aren’t trying. theBreaker.news has confirmed that, on June 19 and 20, RCMP obtained eight search warrants, all of which are sealed. Residents of a cul-de-sac in a Langley neighbourhood north of Campbell Valley Regional Park say that police were on-site for several days and even set-up a tent in the yard of a house that is connected to Fan’s brother.
Jang wouldn’t comment on the motive for Fan’s murder. As for her injuries, he would only call them “extensive, serious.”
“There’s family members, potentially witnesses, that perhaps are no longer in Canada — they’ve left Canada,” Jang said. “Those are challenges we’re facing, but nothing we can’t overcome.”
A pamphlet for Golden Touch said the philosophy was founded by a woman named Xinyue (Mya), who is also known as Zhang Xinyue, author of Wisdom for Abundance.
An English translation of the pamphlet said Zhang “attained epiphany of mission, through careful research and development, has created a set of a comprehensive, in-depth and efficient system of theories and practice concerning spiritual growth. With all religions integrated, this system uses a variety of professional methods to quickly clean up people, change their selfhoods to enhance the quality of their soul.”
Golden Touch claims to be more than a series of courses, seminars and workshops. It says it is a spiritual growth system and boasts of a network of clubs in major cities across North America, Europe and Asia. The pamphlet said workshop attendees gain inspiration, confidence, influence, charm and wealth: “Your income will magically increase. All your fears and limitations about money will be destroyed.”
The group charged $200 to $300 for admission to seminars at the Richmond Sheraton Airport Hotel. A notice for the two-day course also mentions the Mineral Springs Resort. Other conferences were hosted in an amphitheatre aboard a Pacific Cruises ship.
Create Abundance International Institute Inc. was incorporated in July 2014 at the Grandview Heights address, registered to Zhong Guo “businessperson.” Fellow director Zhang Dazhun listed an address at a $3.5 million-assessed property west of Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley.
Zhang and Guo’s names appear as the two directors of GT Global Corp., a Bahamas-registered company listed in the Panama Papers offshore accounts database.
A source, who did not want to be identified for fear of retribution, said the organization has been operating in the Grandview Heights area since 2016. It often drew tour buses and luxury cars for daytime meetings involving “well-heeled” people. One of the houses was a haven of activity, where a couple dozen people were often seen working.
The corporate registry shows five provincially registered companies linked to Golden Touch with the same address at the $3.1 million 27th Avenue property. Two of the companies have business permits from Surrey city hall.
After complaints from neighbours, the buses stopped coming, but people still drove-in, parking at the house on 27th Avenue or a related property on 166A Street, where the Create Abundance sign was seen next to the front door. Gatherings typically took place from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., sometimes up to four days a week. There were often stretches of no activity for months. Fan is believed to have driven a White Dodge Charger with a pink “princess on board” decal and managed the house.
A phone number associated with one of the Golden Touch companies, a computer consulting business, appears in several advertisements on Chinese language blogs, for recruiting event planners for party activities in Las Vegas and Seattle and an executive assistant in Surrey.
A man who answered the phone number listed on those blogs on July 15 said he was Peng Fan and that Bo Fan was his older sister. He said his English was poor and asked a reporter to send him an email instead. He has yet to respond to the email, which was translated to Chinese.
In 2017, Zhang trademarked the Chinese characters and the Chinese name for Create Abundance, Chuang Zhao Feng Sheng. The categories of services covered in the Industry Canada application included vocational guidance; travel industry education courses; arranging and conducting financial conferences; art appreciation workshops and seminars; book and review publishing; fitness training; radio and TV production; comedy club services; modelling for artists; psychological consultation, assessment and testing services.
Zhang did not list a Canadian address in the application, but instead one in a hotel complex across from the sprawling campus of Changchun University in China’s northeastern province, Jilin.
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