ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — A police investigation into the group-home death of a British Columbia teen has wrapped up without criminal charges, but several Indigenous organizations say more must be done.
A statement from Abbotsford police says a group-home care worker reported the 17-year-old missing Sept. 15 and he was found dead three days later.
A release from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs says the teen was found in the closet of his bedroom at the Aboriginal Agency group home where he was last seen, and had been there the whole time.
The statement from First Nations leaders says troubling circumstances surrounded the death but the family's requests for a full investigation were not accepted and the death was deemed a suicide.
Abbotsford police say there was no indication that the teen was suicidal, or using drugs or alcohol when he was reported missing and the BC Coroners Service continues to handle the matter.
The Union of BC Indian Chiefs says an autopsy has now been ordered but the family remains skeptical about a thorough investigation.
Spokeswoman Judy Wilson says the victim 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," Wilson says in the statement.
Chery Casimer of the First Nations Summit says it will support the teen's family in its calls for justice.
"We expect a full and thorough investigation into this young man’s death, as would be expected for any other child or youth who dies under suspicious circumstances," she says.
The coroners service says in an email that it is investigating the death and it is too early to say if an inquest will be called.
It says it examines all deaths involving victims under the age of 19 and reviews the details to "discover and monitor trends and determine whether further evaluation is necessary or desirable in the public interest."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 30, 2020
The Canadian Press