The Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society (FVACFSS) has launched an internal review into the circumstances surrounding the death last month of a First Nations youth in care in Abbotsford.
The 17-year-old boy was in the agency’s care at a group home when his body was found Sept. 18 in his bedroom closet four days after staff believed he had gone missing.
Abbotsford Police and the BC Coroners Service deemed the death a suicide and determined there were no grounds for further investigation or an autopsy. But pressure from the family and four Indigenous organizations has now resulted in an autopsy being ordered.
The groups would also like a thorough police investigation into the matter.
A statement from the FVACFSS states that the agency is “heartbroken over the loss of this youth.”
“We are saddened and, on behalf of our agency, we send love, prayers and condolences to the family, caregivers and the community,” they said.
The agency stated that in addition to their internal review, they will cooperate fully with all external investigations.
“We trust that findings from an investigative review will give the grieving family and agency staff answers, comfort and understanding,” they said.
The FVACFSS said their needs to be a collective effort to advocate for culturally appropriate, trauma-informed prevention resources and mental health services.
They said they are committed to improving services to better prevent further tragedies like this from occurring.
“This work will involve collaborating with numerous ministries, policing and justice, and our First Nations organizations to make progress in the social determinants of health. Our agency is prepared and accountable to do our part,” the statement indicated.
“Bill C92 is an opportunity to transform programs and services for Indigenous children and families. We are excited about this new law, the opportunities it provides.”
The FVACFSS, based in Chilliwack, was founded by the Stó:lō Nation in 1992. The agency was established with the goal of providing better outcomes for Indigenous families, children and youth in the Fraser Valley, as well as prevention and a focus on enhancing Indigenous culture.