Participating in a Zoom press conference on Thursday morning (Oct. 15) about the death of Traevon Desjarlis-Chalifoux in Abbotsford were (clockwise from top left) Harvey McLeod, Theresa Campiou, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Robert Phillips and Sarah Rauch.

Participating in a Zoom press conference on Thursday morning (Oct. 15) about the death of Traevon Desjarlis-Chalifoux in Abbotsford were (clockwise from top left) Harvey McLeod, Theresa Campiou, Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, Robert Phillips and Sarah Rauch.

Family of Indigenous teen who was found dead in B.C. group home pushes for public inquiry

Body of Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux, 17, was found in closet 4 days after reported missing

The family of a First Nations youth whose body was found in the bedroom closet of his Abbotsford group home after being reported missing four days prior says a public inquiry into his death is essential.

Aunt and family spokesperson Theresa Campiou participated Thursday morning at an online press conference to address the death of Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux, 17. She was joined by representatives from three First Nations organizations as well as Sarah Rauch, counsel for Traevon’s mom, Samantha.

Campiou said the family is devastated by the death of Traevon, who she said was “loved by everyone” and was “a young man who was aspiring to find out what the world has to offer.”

Traevon was first reported missing Sept. 14 by staff at his group home. A missing-person report was filed, but Traevon’s body was not found in his bedroom until Sept. 18.

Abbotsford Police and the coroner deemed the death a suicide and determined there were no grounds for further investigation or an autopsy. The coroner later agreed that an autopsy would be conducted.

RELATED: Action demanded over death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home

But Campiou said the family, with the support of Indigenous organizations such as the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC), wants an independent public inquiry so that they can have answers to questions such as why it took four days to find Traevon.

““A loss of any life is devastating …. but when it comes from a place from where we totally don’t understand how this could be, where it comes from a place where a child is by themselves, alone, and we have trusted people both through the agency and the government help us take care of our child, and when that didn’t happen we want to know why,” Campiou said.

Rauch said the family has not yet had answers to the many questions they have, and a public inquiry is the only way that they “can begin to get justice and understand what happened.”

“Words can’t convey how devastating it is not knowing what happened before (and) after and a sense that you’re shut out from information that others have,” Rauch said.

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson of UBCIC said the organization is “extremely concerned about the lack of investigation” into Traevon’s death and the treatment of Indigenous people in Canada.

Robert Phillips of the First Nations Summit agreed, saying that systemic racism is “happening too often.” He said a public inquiry will bring out the answers that the family is looking for and hold accountable the public bodies that were involved.

Chief Harvey McLeod of the BC Assembly of First Nations said the public needs to know what happened and have assurances that actions are being taken and that a death like Traevon’s will not happen again.

He said a lack of immediate action is tied to systemic racism and discrimination.

“Indigenous people dealing with any government system are automatically at a disadvantage. We consistently face discrimination and racism at the hands of the police, the health care system and the childcare system,” McLeod said.

“As First Nations leaders, we say this needs to change.”

The Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society – the agency whose care Traevon was under – previously said it has launched its own review into the circumstances surrounding the teen’s death.

RELATED: Care agency launches review into death of First Nations youth in Abbotsford group home



vhopes@abbynews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First Nations

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

North Coast BC NDP MLA Incumbent is seen with her wife Andrea Wilmot and their son Lua, as well as their dog Duncan. Preliminary results on election night Oct. 24 show Rice is in for a third term. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

John Horgan has been re-elected the MLA for Langford-Juan de Fuca. (File-Black Press)
Horgan trounces challengers to be re-elected in his Vancouver Island riding

MLA has represented constituency of Langford-Juan de Fuca and its predecessors since 2005

DriveBC webcam shot of Highway 20 near Anahim Lake Friday, Oct. 23 at 11:30 a.m. shows snow-covered roads. A travel advisory is in effect. (DriveBC webcam image)
Travel advisory in effect for Highway 20 from Williams Lake west to Firvale

Winter driving conditions continue to have an impact

Below seasonal temperatures are expected throughout much of the province (file photo)
Below seasonal temperatures, snow in the forecast for Bella Coola

More early season snowfall expected today as Arctic air arrives

(Image by Ulrike Leone from Pixabay)
QUIZ: A celebration of colour

Fall in British Columbia is a time to enjoy a spectrum of vivid colours

Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam responds to a question during a news conference Friday October 23, 2020 in Ottawa. Canada’s top physician says she fears the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths may increase in the coming weeks as the second wave continues to drive the death toll toward 10,000. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s top doctor warns severe illness likely to rise, trailing spike in COVID-19 cases

Average daily deaths from virus reached 23 over the past seven days, up from six deaths six weeks ago

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

RCMP stock photo (Black Press)
Charges laid against Prince George man, 39, in drug trafficking probe

Tyler Aaron Gelowitz is scheduled to appear in court Nov. 18

Most Read