The family of a First Nations girl slain last week in Kamloops stood alongside some of Canada’s highest-ranking First Nations leaders and tearfully pleaded for a national inquiry into missing and murdered native women.
“In the depth of our grief for our beloved daughter, we are comforted in the support of our leaders for continuing to take this message forward and to advocate on behalf of us and other families impacted by such tragedies,” said Matilda Fowler, whose 16-year-old daughter, CJ, was found dead in Kamloops on Dec. 5.
The grieving mother spoke at a press conference in Vancouver on Wednesday, Dec. 12, during the First Nations Summit taking place in the Lower Mainland.
Fowler’s body was discovered by a man walking his dog in Guerin Creek.
Police have remained tight-lipped about their investigation, but said the girl had been in Kamloops for less than a week when she was killed.
Investigators believe Fowler had a bus ticket to return to Terrace, where she lived, on the day she was killed, and are considering the possibility she was on her way to the Greyhound station on Notre Dame Drive prior to her murder.
Also speaking at the press conference, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn Atleo said Fowler’s death “has triggered an overwhelmingly painful reminder” for natives in Canada, and called on government officials to do what it takes to prevent similar slayings in the future.
“We must all commit, including all levels of government, to address the root causes of such tragedies so that our peoples can achieve the safety and security required and deserved,” he said.
“First Nations have committed to ending violence against and among our peoples, we have called for a national public commission of inquiry on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, and we will not rest until this is achieved.
“How many more lives must be lost, how many more families must be devastated, before we see action from government to work together with us to ensure our peoples are safe?”
Kamloops RCMP Staff Sgt. Grant Learned said the investigation into Fowler’s murder has not slowed after one week.
“The major-crimes unit is characterizing the investigation as very active, very dynamic, very fluid and proceeding favourably,” he said.
Mounties have now narrowed the window during which they think Fowler was killed to between 2:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 5.
Investigators are looking to speak with witnesses who saw Fowler — or anyone — walking up Columbia Street from Third Avenue toward Grandview Terrace between those hours.
Learned also renewed a plea from earlier this week for homeowners in the area with exterior video surveillance to come forward with their tapes from the morning of the murder.
Anyone with information can call police at 250-828-3000 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.