The search for a young Indigenous woman ended in tragedy after her remains were found in a vacant home in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighborhood.
For the grieving family of 24-year-old Chelsea Poorman, the discovery provided little solution – only new questions.
“We still don’t know what happened to her,” said Sheila Poorman, the young woman’s mother. “I don’t know if we will ever find out.”
Contractors spotted the remains of Chelsea on April 22 while working on a property near Granville Street and West 37th Avenue, an expensive part of town lined with multimillion-dollar homes.
His identity was later confirmed by DNA testing and authorities informed his family on Friday morning before making a public announcement.
“This is not the result anyone wanted. We always hoped that Chelsea would be found alive, and our condolences go out to everyone who knew Chelsea, loved her and hoped she would come home safely,” said Sgt. Steve Addison of the Vancouver Police Department said in a statement.
He then told reporters that Chelsea’s skeleton was found outside the home in a heavily wooded area, and that toxicology and other testing would not be possible on her remains, but Vancouver police would provide “personal information” to the family in the next few years. days.
The news came a day after National Awareness Day for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, also known as Red Dress Day, which saw ceremonies held across the country, including in Vancouver. .
Chelsea was a member of the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan, but was living on the west coast when she went missing.
Police do not consider his death suspicious, but have not provided any further details other than that they have reviewed the findings of a coroner’s inquest.
Her mother, who spoke to the coroner on Friday, told CTV News she did not understand how police came to this conclusion.
“I don’t know why they would say that,” Sheila said. “They don’t even have a cause of death. They don’t know what happened. Somebody just doesn’t know – they don’t just die for no reason.”
In a news release, Vancouver police said they believe Chelsea “probably died on the property on or shortly after the night of her disappearance, but was not discovered as the house has been vacant for years.”
Speaking to reporters, police acknowledged that squatters were often on the property, but said they would not speculate on how she died.
Her mother thinks someone must have been there when it happened, partly because her daughter was found covered in a blanket.
“People had to be in this place,” she said. “Squatters, anyone know something.”
Chelsea disappeared after leaving a friend’s apartment in downtown Vancouver on the night of September 6, 2020.
Late at night, she spoke with her sister on the phone and suggested she was with a new love.
Her family never heard from her again.
They have previously expressed frustration with the police department’s handling of his case. While they reported Chelsea missing on September 8, authorities didn’t announce her missing until September 18.
“It was just a major failure from the start – the first 10 days nothing was done,” said his father, Michael Kiernan, who believes Chelsea’s Aboriginal heritage played a part.
“This (problem) is not going away, it will only grow and I will see this through to the end.”
CTV News asked Vancouver police about the concerns and they insisted they had devoted considerable resources to the case.
“We worked as hard as we could,” Addison said. “Missing Persons, Major Crimes Section is constantly reviewing tips, reviewing old leads, interviewing witnesses, searching for clues up to the day she was discovered, with the goal of locating her and bringing her home.
Sheila said her daughter deserved a better life. She remembered Chelsea as a kind and caring person who watched over others.
“When we lived in Saskatoon, she wanted to go for a drive so we could make sure people on the street were okay. She wanted to make sure people on the street were warm and had somewhere to go. That’s who Chelsea was,” she said, crying.
“So if anyone knows anything about what happened to Chelsea, I would like them to speak up and let us know.”
Late Friday afternoon, dancers from Butterflies in Spirit laid flowers and incense outside the house where Chelsea’s remains were hidden, unbeknownst to her family and loved ones. They are planning a memorial rally there for Sunday.