A GoFundMe campaign has been started to support the legal fight of a mom whose son was found dead in a closet of an Abbotsford group home in September.
Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux, 17, who was Indigenous, was first reported missing Sept. 14 by staff at his group home. A missing-person report was filed, but Traevon’s body was not found in his bedroom closet until Sept. 18.
Abbotsford Police and the coroner deemed the death a suicide and determined there were no grounds for further investigation or an autopsy. But the coroner later agreed to an autopsy.
The teen’s death resulted in a public outcry from Indigenous organizations, calling for an independent public inquiry for answers to questions such as why it took four days to find Traevon.
The GoFundMe campaign has been started to help Traevon’s mom, Samantha Chalifoux, with legal representation and support to investigate the agency and the group home responsible for Traveon’s care. The goal is $52,000.
The page also states that the money will be used to “push for changes in these agencies, as well as investigate the poor treatment that Samantha received following her son’s death.”
The post says that Chalifoux was notified of Traevon’s death by police officers who came to her home, and by the following day, the group home staff and Traevon’s social worker would no longer respond to her messages.
“Samantha asked to pick up all his belongings, but his clothes, hats and shoes were all thrown out in a dumpster. The few items of Traveon’s that were given to her included a backpack and a small box of belongings.”
The page states that Chalifoux’s request for an autopsy was only granted once she found a lawyer.
“Six months later, Samantha still does not have any answers to her most basic questions about her son’s death, and the many agencies she has asked for information have claimed that they cannot answer her questions,” the GoFundMe page states.
The campaign was started by family friend Jenny Shantz, who said Chalifoux’s main priority is advocating for systemic changes so that other families do not have to suffer the loss of a child like she did.
“It is my hope that this campaign will make a difference for future youth and families in the Abbotsford community – especially our First Nations brothers and sisters whose care for this land is the reason many of us are thriving today,” Shantz said.