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

Mary Fox’s new book My Life as a Potter is available at bookstores nationwide. (Cole Schisler photo)
Mary Fox book: My Life as a Potter raises funds for Mary Fox Legacy Project

My Life as a Potter is available now at bookstores nationwide

BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson on the campaign trail. (Submitted photo)
BC Liberal candidate Duck Paterson clarifies position on climate change

Paterson calls human activity a ‘contributing’ factor and says climate change must be addressed

Property on the Trans Canada Highway beside the Country Maples Campground has been sold and will become a modular home park. (Photo submitted)
Development, business transactions significant for Chemainus

Two highway properties and Owl’s Nest Bakery and Bistro sold

Chris Istace campaigning in Crofton. (Photo submitted)
Green Party’s Istace apologizes for remark about First Nations gaming grants being a ‘handout’

Candidate determined to do better in thinking and communicating matters of reconciliation

Debby Baker completed her 671km walk in style with a celebration at Eagles Hall in Ladysmith (Submitted photo)
671 kilometres later, Debby Baker raises $5,000 for local charities

Baker travelled the distance from Ladysmith to the Dalles, Oregon – all without leaving the Island

Our Home on 8th, the Port Alberni Shelter that opened in March 2019, has 27 extra ‘extreme weather’ spaces for people who need a place to get out of the cold. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
BC VOTES 2020: Mid-Island candidate plans occupation of shelter to protest homelessness

Graham Hughes says homeless situation a ‘crisis’ in Port Alberni

Parksville’s Jared Huggan won $75,000 playing BC/49. (BCLC/Photo submitted)
Vancouver Island man $75K richer after purchasing winning lottery ticket at Nanaimo Walmart

Parksville’s Huggan plans to purchase electric bike for partner

Actor Ryan Reynolds surprised a Shuswap family with a special birthday message to their son who was worried he’d be alone on his 9th birthday on Nov. 24. (Tiffanie Trudell/Facebook)
Ryan Reynolds text almost gives away Shuswap boy’s birthday surprise

Deadpool actor helps remind eight-year-old Canoe resident he’s not alone

The Cowichan Steelheads’ Jesus Martinez (left) and the Cowichan 49ers’ Daryl Rodgers chase down the ball during Saturday night’s all-Cowichan clash at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Cowichan masters derby takes unexpected turn with broken leg

Soccer community comes together in midst of battle

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Larry Whetstone is concerned about the condition of Jeffries Road, where he has lived for 30 years. (Robert Barron/Citizen)
Poor condition of rural road in Cowichan has resident fed up

Transportation Ministry says repair plan under development

Vancouver police reactivated the search for Jordan Naterer Thursday Oct. 22. Photo courtesy of VPD.
Mom of missing Manning Park hiker believes her son is waiting to come home

‘He’s going to come out of a helicopter and say ‘what took you so long?”

Environment Minister George Heyman, Premier John Horgan and Energy Minister Michelle Mungall announce that B.C. Hydro is proceeding with construction of the Site C dam, Dec. 11, 2017. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
Site C actions, costs won’t be known until after B.C. election, Horgan says

Peace River diverted for construction of reinforced dam base

Most Read