An inquest is underway Monday into the death of Deanna Desjarlais, a woman from Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan who was found dead in a Surrey, B.C. park two years ago.
Desjarlais’ family is hoping the inquest results in police taking cases of missing Indigenous women more seriously.
The 27-year-old moved to B.C. from Saskatchewan in 2015 and her body was found a month after she disappeared in 2016 — although she wasn’t identified for months.
According to officials, Desjarlais had numerous contacts with the health, justice, and social services sectors in the months that followed.
She was last heard from in April 2016 and her family reported her missing a month later.
Desjarlais was found dead in Surrey’s Hawthorne Park in May 2016, but she was not identified until that September.
The inquest will look into the circumstances surrounding her death and come up with recommendations that could prevent similar deaths.
After Desjarlais’ body was found, a family friend questioned what police did before her remains were identified and why they never publicly released a missing person bulletin with a photo of Desjarlais.
Vancouver police said at the time that they seriously investigated Desjarlais as a missing person, even though they didn’t issue a media release.