Mother of Cree teen who died in B.C. group home testifies at coroner's inquest

A mother's heartbreak

In the days after her son disappeared, Samantha Chalifoux says she knocked on doors and windows of the British Columbia group home where he had been staying, only to learn later that he had been found hanging in the closet of the same house.

Chalifoux is the first witness to testify at the BC Coroners Service inquest into the death of 17-year-old Traevon Desjarlais, whose body was found in the Abbotsford, B.C., home on Sept. 18, 2020.

Her son had been reported missing four days earlier, and Chalifoux told the inquest a staff member called to ask if she had seen him, telling her that his room had been checked.

Chalifoux testified her son would call her in the weeks after he arrived at the home, saying he was hungry, but was told he would have to wait for food.

The Cree teen had been living in the home operated by the Fraser Valley Aboriginal Children and Family Services Society under contract to the provincial government.

In a voice filled with emotion,Chalifoux described Desjarlais as "outgoing," saying he was happy spending time with his younger brother and he wanted to secure a good job.

The five-member coroner's jury will hear evidence from witnesses under oath, but the inquest is not a fault-finding inquiry. A statement from the coroner says the jury will make recommendations on ways to prevent deaths in similar circumstances.

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