BY JADE BREMNER
First Nations organizations are calling for a thorough investigation into the death of a teen who was found hanging in his closet days after being reported missing. The youth was under the care of a Delegated Aboriginal Agency through a consent custody arrangement.
The body of the 17-year-old was discovered on September 18 in Abbotsford, near the Canada–United States border.
A joint press release from Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, First Nations Summit, the B.C. Assembly of First Nations and the Indigenous Bar Association of Canada also claimed the boy’s body had been in the closet for at least four days before it was discovered, and alledged that authorities had immediately dismissed the case as a suicide.
As the Abbotsford police and the child coroner were not planning to further investigate the case, the boy’s family reached out for support from First Nations leadership to seek “answers and justice,” in what they perceive to be “troubling circumstances” surrounding the death, read the recent press release.
The care agency was aware the 17-year-old had disappeared on September 14, when it contacted the boy’s mother, who confirmed she had not seen him. The agency filed a missing persons report the next day.
“The decision of the police to not investigate thoroughly into the circumstances of his death is affirmation of the systemic racism that devalues the lives of Indigenous peoples,” said Judy Wilson from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.
Terry Teegee of the B.C. Assembly of First Nations, is also calling for a further investigation: “The lives of First Nations children deserve the same attention and action as any other child. This young man was in the care of a system that was supposed to protect him, yet his body went unnoticed for several days. The decision of the police to not investigate thoroughly into the circumstances of his death is affirmation of the systemic racism that devalues the lives of Indigenous peoples
“We will not sit idly by while First Nations children and families are left voiceless and grieving.”
Abbotsford Police Department claimed that there was no indication that the boy was was suicidal or using drugs or alcohol before his death and detectives saw no evidence of criminality at the scene.
“The AbbyPD expresses its sincere condolences to the family and friends of this young man and to all others affected by his tragic death,” said constable Jody Thomas, reported CBC News.