B.C. news: Vigil for deceased Indigenous women, teen girl

The families of two women and a teenage girl who were all recently found deceased after being reported missing in Metro Vancouver gathered on Saturday for an emotional vigil.

“A life that was taken from us,” said Natasha Harrison, about her daughter Tatyanna. “She deserved so much more than this world was willing to offer her.”

Harrison reported her daughter missing on May 3. It turns out Richmond RCMP had already found the 20-year-od’s remains on a boat moored on the Fraser River the day before, but didn’t positively identify her until the first week of August.

According to her family, a preliminary coroner’s report indicated Tatyanna died from fentanyl toxicity.

Her mother says the RCMP deemed the death non-suspicious and closed the case – even though Tatyanna’s body was discovered naked from the waist down.

“Well, you swept her case under the rug. Tatyanna’s worth so much more than you’re willing to give her and now the world’s left without her. We don’t have her in our lives anymore,” Harrison said.

More than 100 people gathered at the Richmond marina where Tatyanna’s remains were located.

Family members of Noelle O’Soup, an Indigenous teen found dead in Hastings Street SRO, and Chelsea Poorman, a young Indigenous woman whose body was found on the property of a west side mansion, also spoke at the vigil.

“Stop allowing this to happen. Start speaking up so we don’t have any more Noelle O’Soups,” said Josie August, a relative of O’Soup’s. “(She) was 13-years-old. She should be at the mall. She should be with her friends. She should be with her family.”

O’Soup was reported missing from her Port Coquitlam foster home in May of 2021 and her remains were located in May of 2022.

On February 24, Vancouver police located a man in his 40s dead inside the same room but did not thoroughly search it.

More than two months later, a cleaning crew clearing the man’s possessions out of the apartment found the bodies of O’Soup and a woman who has not been publicly identified.

The Office of the Police Complaints Commissioner has opened an investigation into the conduct of an officer with the Vancouver Police Department for allegation of neglect of duty in relation to the case.

That investigation is currently on hold while a criminal investigation unfolds into the deaths of O’Soup and the other woman located in the room.

Poorman was missing for nearly two years before a contractor working on a Shaugnessy mansion found her body on the property.

Parts of her cranium and some of her fingers were missing.

The VPD says it believes Poorman died the day she disappeared, or a short time after, and her remains had been exposed to the elements for 20 months.

Although the investigation remains open, police have said there is insufficient evidence to call Poorman’s death suspicious.

The three families who spoke at the vigil have more in common than grief – they also share a belief that police did not do enough to find their missing daughters and aren’t thoroughly investigating the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

“They are someone. They are somebody’s daughter, they are somebody’s niece, they are loved,” said Sheila Poorman, Chelsea’s mother.

Despite the tremendous pain that comes with sharing their grief publicly, the families of Harrison, Poorman and O’Soup do it so their loved ones will not be forgotten as they continue the search for answers about how, and why, they died.