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Investigation of the RCMP after discovery of body of Indigenous woman

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The woman Chelsey Quaw, shown here in a photo from her Facebook page.

Radio-Canada

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The British Columbia Independent Investigations Office (IIO) is launching an investigation into whether the actions or lack of action by the RCMP may have contributed to the death of a woman from the Saik'uz Nation, near Prince- George.

Her body was found less than a kilometer from where she was last seen alive, almost a month after the reported missing on October 11.

The IIO has not named the victim, but the details and description of the situation match the disappearance and death of 29-year-old Chelsey Quaw (nee Heron).

On November 6 RCMP announced that her body was found in a wooded part of the community.

Her family members and community leaders had called for more attention and resources to be given to her disappearance, fearing that police, the public and the media would ignore her because she was indigenous.

For their part, the RCMP indicates that they launched an in-depth investigation into the disappearance, but it led to nothing.

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In an email sent Nov. 8, RCMP spokesperson Corporal Madonna Saunderson said air services, police dogs and search and rescue teams were all immediately deployed the day Chelsey went missing Quaw.

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A wanted poster for Chelsey Quaw in Prince George, B.C. She was found dead on November 5, unless one kilometer from where she was reported missing in the Saik'uz First Nation, according to the Office of Independent Investigations.

The IIO says it was informed on November 26 of concerns about the case.

In an interview on November 3, the mother of Chelsey Quaw's Pam Herron said she feared her daughter had been stereotyped because of her Aboriginal background. She did not feel the RCMP had handled her disappearance with enough urgency.

The same day, at a public hearing, leaders from the Saik'uz Nation and the Highway of Tears Governing Body called on the RCMP to bring in more outside resources to support search efforts.

The Highway of Tears Governing Body, the governing body of the Highway of Tears, was established in 2006 in response to a series of cases of women and girls , often indigenous, who had disappeared or been killed along Highway 16, between Prince George and Prince Rupert.

L ;organization records the disappearance of more than 40 women and girls along this 700-kilometer stretch.

The organization maintains that very little has changed since its inception, noting that the death of Chelsey Quaw is the perfect example.

With information from Andrew Kurjata

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