Adrian Sylvester was shocked and surprised when the RCMP initially announced that they believed there was no criminality involved in the death of First Nation teenager Carsyn Mackenzie Seaweed.
Sylvester was one of roughly 30 people who gathered in front of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment on Friday (May 26) to protest the police’s handling of the investigation into the death of 15-year-old Seaweed.
The Citizen is now reporting her name as her family has identified her publicly.
Seaweed was found alive but semi-conscious under a pile of wooden pallets, cardboard and garbage behind the Super 8 Hotel in Duncan on the morning of May 15. She later died in hospital.
On Friday, Sylvester said he finds it ridiculous that Mounties would say they believed there was no criminality involved in the teenager’s death considering the state of how she was found.
“How could they say that this isn’t suspicious?” he asked.
“The RCMP are supposed to be here to protect us. Carsyn’s family was heartbroken when they learned that the police had stopped the investigation. We want the RCMP and the community to be aware that these kinds of things can’t happen anymore. Enough is enough.”
Sylvester is a member of Cowichan Tribes’ Sasquatch Clan Patrol, a volunteer-run organization that focuses on harm reduction and community health.
The RCMP have since confirmed that they are still actively investigating the circumstances surrounding the hours leading up to Seaweed’s death, and that their initial statement that they believed that there was no criminality involved was a miscommunication between police spokespeople.
Insp. Chris Bear, head of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP detachment, came out to talk to the protesters, assuring the crowd that investigators are doing all they can to get to the bottom of the case.
“This investigation was never closed, but there was a miscommunication and I apologize for that,” he said.
Bear said he couldn’t speak about the case further as it’s still under investigation, and he encouraged anyone with information to contact the RCMP.
Cowichan Tribes and Seaweed’s mother are also urging anyone with information about her death and final hours to come forward.
Sylvester said he believes the RCMP only decided to continue the investigation into Seaweed’s death after they came under pressure from the community to do so.
He described the teen as always being happy and caring, with a smile that lit up the faces of everyone around her.
“Her family and friends really loved her and they are in my prayers every day.”
Sylvester said young people are full of joy and love, but they lose that when things like the death of Seaweed happen.
“I want our youth to grow up happy and thinking of their futures and I want to reassure them that this will not happen to them,” he said. “The support from the community here today is great, but it shouldn’t have had to come to this.”
What’s needed are more patrols and security on the streets that have people on them who care about what they’re doing, he added.
“We also need more youth centres and other good places where kids can go for art, music and culture to keep them off the streets, as well as more recovery centres.”
An online fundraiser has been set up for the family at gofund.me/a4b1da2e.