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

BC Coroners Service is currently investigating a death at Canoe Cove Marina and Boatyard in North Saanich. (Black Press Media File)
Drowning death of North Saanich likely first in B.C. for 2021

Investigation into suspected drowning Monday night continues

Sidney's Beacon Wharf
Pontoon company piqued at prospect of public-private partnership around Sidney wharf

Seagate approached to submit proposeal for public-private partnership

Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $10.25 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
Located at 9750 West Saanich Rd., this North Saanich mansion is on the market for $8.65 million. (Realtor.ca photo)
The five most expensive homes for sale in Greater Victoria

A roundup of luxury estates currently on the market

Jimmy Fallon joked that a woman’s 4.5-star review of a Langford jail is “the most Canadian thing you could do” in The Tonight Show Jan. 21. (Screenshot/YouTube)
VIDEO: Jimmy Fallon jokes Canadian jails are basically hotels following woman’s 4.5-star review

Woman gave handwritten card to police following stay in Langford cells

The District of Saanich’s communications team decided to take part in a viral trend on Thursday and photoshopped U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders into a staff meeting photo. (District of Saanich/Twitter)
Bernie Sanders makes guest appearance at Saanich staff meeting

Sidney firefighters jump on viral trend of photoshopped U.S. senator

Toronto Public Health nurse Lalaine Agarin sets up for mass vaccination clinic in Toronto, Jan. 17, 2021. B.C. is set to to begin its large-scale immunization program for the general public starting in April. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
B.C.’s COVID-19 mass vaccinations expected to start in April

Clinics to immunize four million people by September

Terry Keogh, an RDN Transit driver, used his paramedic skills the morning of Jan. 22 after coming across an unconscious woman along his route in downtown Nanaimo. (RDN Transit photo)
Nanaimo transit driver stops his bus and helps get overdosing woman breathing again

Former EMT from Ireland performed CPR on a woman in downtown Nanaimo on Friday

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a daily briefing in Ottawa. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld)
31 cases of COVID-19 variants detected in Canada: Health officials

Dr. Theresa Tam made announces 13 more variant COVID-19 cases in Canada

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at the Okisollo fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. The First Nations Leadership Council says an attempt by industry to overturn the phasing out of salmon farms in the Discovery Islands in contrary to their inherent Title and Rights. (THE CANADIAN PRESS /Jonathan Hayward photo)
First Nations Leadership Council denounces attempt to overturn salmon farm ban

B.C.’s producers filed for a judicial review of the Discovery Islands decision Jan. 18

Daily COVID-19 cases reported to each B.C. health region, to Jan. 20, 2021. Island Health in blue, Northern Health green, Interior Health orange, Vancouver Coastal in red and Fraser Health in purple. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate stays stable with 508 cases Friday

Vaccine delivered to more than 110,000 high-risk people

More than 100 B.C. fishermen, fleet leaders, First Nations leaders and other salmon stakeholders are holding a virtual conference Jan. 21-22 to discuss a broad-range of issues threatening the commercial salmon fishery. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. commercial salmon fishermen discuss cures for an industry on the brink

Two-day virtual conference will produce key reccomendations for DFO

Black Press file photo
Investigation at remote burned-out Vancouver Island cabin reveals human remains

Identity of victim not released, believed to be the owner of an SUV vehicle found parked nearby

Angela Waldick is the new team photographer for the Nanaimo NightOwls. (Nanaimo NightOwls photo)
Half-blind photographer will help new Island baseball team look picture-perfect

Nanaimo NightOwls say legally blind team photographer is making history

School District 57 headquarters in Prince George. (Mark Nielsen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter)
Prince George school district settles with sexual abuse victim

Terms were part of an out-of-court settlement reached with Michael Bruneau, nearly four years after he filed a lawsuit

Most Read