'We keep burying our loved ones': Outrage, grief at Vancouver vigil for Chelsea Poorman

Family and members of Vancouver's Indigenous community gathered Sunday afternoon at a vigil for Chelsea Poorman, expressing both grief and outrage over the young woman's unexplained death.

The 24-year-old's remains were found outside a vacant property in Vancouver’s Shaughnessy neighbourhood last month.

The small crowd gathered outside the house, located at 1536 West 36th Ave.

Many wore red as they sang, drummed and performed ceremonies, honouring the young woman’s life.

Poorman was a member of the Kawacatoose First Nation in Saskatchewan and had recently moved to Vancouver when she went missing in September of 2020.

The recent discovery of her remains brought little closure to her family and friends who still have many questions surrounding her death.

"Chelsea didn't deserve this,” said her mother, Sheila Poorman, addressing the crowd.

She had few words to share at the vigil as she grieves the death of her daughter.

"She went through so much trauma. She overcame so much. But to end up like this is not right,” she said.

Her skeleton was discovered April 22 by contractors working on the vacant home which neighbours tell CTV News often attracted squatters.

Her identity was later confirmed through DNA testing and police made the announcement about the discovery on Friday.

It’s unclear how Chelsea ended up on the property or how she died, yet the Vancouver Police Department has said Poorman’s death is not suspicious.

"We don't believe this death is suspicious. When I say that, what I mean is, we do not believe that Chelsea was murdered, we don't believe her death was caused by another person,” said VPD spokesperson Sgt. Steve Addison.

This comment has caused outrage in the community, with many calling on the police to apologize.

Sheila said she was told her daughter's body was dismembered, that she was missing her cranium and some fingers when found.

"And they have the gall to say it's not suspicious and no foul play. My daughters and I want answers,” she said.

The announcement of the discovery was made just one day after the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, also known as Red Dress Day.

"This happens pretty much every day in this great country so many people call Canada,” said Audrey Siegl, an activist from the Musqueam Nation.

“Disproportionately to my women, to the Indigenous women, to the women who are from these lands,” she added.

Siegl said the pain Sheila feels is all too real for her as she lost her younger sister a few years ago.

"We keep burying our loved ones, if we're lucky to find them, our young ones. I cannot imagine what her family is going through. We know what happened to my sister. They didn't get to know,” she said.

Sheila and her family are planning a burial for her daughter, then they'll continue to fight for answers.

They say they aren't going to rest until they know what happened to Chelsea