The leaders of several different Indigenous organizations are calling for an investigation after the death of a First Nations youth that occurred in a BC group home.
The Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) says that earlier this month, the youth “was found dead in the closet of his bedroom.” The Union says that he was under the care of a delegated Aboriginal agency and was found in the agency’s group home.
Staff had reportedly informed the mother that her child had gone missing on September 14 and asked if she had heard anything from him. The mother said she hadn’t and a missing person’s report was filed by agency staff. It was only four days later, on September 18, that his body was reportedly discovered in his closet.
“His body had apparently been hanging there for at least four days,” says the UBCIC in a statement.
The Union says that despite the “troubling circumstances” surrounding the incident, as well as multiple requests from the family, there has yet to be a full investigation.
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“The death was immediately deemed a suicide,” says the UBCIC. “This was determined without any interviews with the family or further investigation.”
It was only after numerous calls and pressure from First Nations leadership that an autopsy was arranged. Still, leadership groups and the family are still concerned about whether a proper investigation will be conducted by the Abbotsford Police Department and the provincial government.
“The lives of First Nations children deserve the same attention and action as any other child,” says Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. “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.”