Death of Noelle O’Soup ‘a known tragedy’ and answers are needed, say Indigenous leaders

Noelle “Elli” O’Soup, a Native American girl reported missing from her home in Port Coquitlam, BC, more than a year ago, died in an apartment in Vancouver in early May, authorities say. She was 14 years old.

Noelle, a member of Key First Nation in Saskatchewan, was one of two people found dead on May 1 in an apartment on the corner of Heatley Avenue and Hastings Street in the Strathcona borough, Vancouver police said in a statement. Police say their cause of death is unknown.

“This has become a well-known tragedy that our families and communities have experienced,” Coun said. Solomon Reece of Key First Nation in a written statement.

“We need action and systemic change from all levels of government to protect our children and protect the vulnerable members of our community. Her death affects us all.”

Police say the cause of death of 14-year-old Noelle O’Soup is unknown and that the Major Crimes Department – including the Homicide, Robbery, Assault and Arson Division and the Missing Persons Division – is investigating. (RCMP)

Kukpi7 Judy Wilson, secretary-treasurer of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, said the long time Noelle was missing and the weeks-long delay from her death until her family was notified raises questions about how important her life is. used to be.

“The missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and Two Spirit are always fired, denied and postponed,” Wilson said. “And unfortunately this is another tragic end to that.

“There are too many stats and too many cases, and it continues and it has to stop.”

Police outline search efforts

Coquitlam RCMP said Noelle originally left her home in Port Coquitlam, just east of Vancouver, “without permission” on the evening of May 12, 2021.

Mounties said they actively searched for her and followed up on every tip received. They are now assisting the Vancouver Police Department and the coroners in investigating Noelle’s death.

Three dead since February in an apartment in Strathcona are under investigation by the coroner. One of the deceased was Noelle O’Soup. (Mike Zimmer/CBC)

“The Coquitlam RCMP offer their deepest condolences to the family and friends and thank the public and media for their assistance in the investigation,” said a Mounties statement.

Vancouver police said that until earlier this week, when the coroner identified the body, it was unknown that Noelle was one of two people who died in early May. The family was notified on Wednesday after the identification was made.

‘Justice’

The coroner said a total of three deaths are under investigation at the apartment building. In addition to the deaths in early May, a man in his early 40s died in the same apartment on February 23.

The coroner would not provide further details about the deaths, citing the ongoing investigation.

The Vancouver Police Department said the Major Crimes Division — including the Homicide, Robbery, Assault and Arson Division and the Missing Persons Division — is investigating Noelle’s death.

“Noelle’s death will raise many questions in the community and we are determined to find answers,” a Vancouver police spokesperson wrote in an email.

“If we determine during this investigation that there is a risk to public safety, we will immediately notify the public.”

Wilson says she hopes investigations will lead to answers for Noelle’s family, but also says reforms are needed to Canada’s colonial systems so that Indigenous children like Noelle don’t show up.

“We really need to deal with all these different … policies from the Doctrine of Discovery and also in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to Get Justice,” Wilson said.

“That’s what our people are looking for: justice.”

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