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

Advance polls are now open for the 2020 B.C. election, including the Hope Legion hall. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
A round-up of Fraser-Nicola election coverage

Undecided voters will find candidate bios, stories on the local race and party platforms

Candidates in the October 2020 B.C. election for the Fraser-Nicola district. (Submitted photos)
Fraser-Nicola candidates address racism, privilege in Oct. 14 debate

Candidates were asked how their work will be influenced by intersectionality

Advance polls are open until Oct. 21 for the 2020 B.C. election, including at the Hope Legion hall. (Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard)
Your Fraser-Nicola candidates on small business and seniors’ cost of living

Candidates also answered questions on Richmond Hill, bringing court back to Hope

Highway alert
Planned closure of Highway 1 at Spuzzum Bridge Thursday

Bridge maintenance will be ongoing during the eight-hour closure this Thursday, Oct. 22

Owen Charpentier, 21, is charged with the Oct. 22, 2019 second-degree murder of Keith Baldwin in Chilliwack. (File)
Pre-trial dates set for Chilliwack man charged with Keith Baldwin’s murder

Owen Dale Charpentier accused in the fourth homicide of 2019 next in court June 2021

With local MLA Adam Olsen looking on, BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau said a Green government would convert BC Ferries into a Crown corporation Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Green leader Sonia Furstenau promises to convert BC Ferries back into Crown corporation

Promise comes Monday afternoon with five days left in campaign

The RCMP helicopter. (File photo)
Suspect escapes after police pursuit through Surrey, Langley, Abbotsford

Police chase involved two stolen vehicles, including one taken in Mission

IIO Chief Civilian Director Ron MacDonald. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
Police watchdog concludes Mounties didn’t shoot Surrey teen at strip mall

IIO finds tragic death of teenager ‘not the result of any actions or inactions’ by the Surrey RCMP

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Police confirm human remains were found in a recycling bin in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2020. (Black Press Media file photo)
Human remains found in recycling bin floating near Vancouver beach

Police asking nearby residents to see if their recycling bin has gone missing

Emergency crews shut down White Rock’s Five Corners district on Feb. 19, 2020 after an altercation left an elderly man in critical condition. (File photo)
Trial dates set in White Rock manslaughter case

Proceedings against Ross Banner, 71, set for June 2021 in Surrey Provincial Court

The many faces of Daon Glasgow. (Photos: Surrey RCMP)
Glasgow found not guilty of trying to murder transit cop in Surrey

Transit Police Constable Josh Harms was shot Jan. 30, 2019 at Scott Road SkyTrain Station

Most Read