Five adults who went missing and were later found deceased were honoured by friends and families at a gathering in Chilliwack on Sunday.
The small vigil was organized by the mother of 23-year-old Shaelene Keeler Bell of Chilliwack, and was held on Jan. 30, one year to the day after Bell went missing in 2021. Her body was found on June 2 in the Fraser River near Coquitlam.
Bell’s mother, Alina Durham, invited the families of the four others who went missing in 2021 – Trina Hunt, Naomi Onotera, Jess Nadin and Damian Dutrisac – to the private gathering on Sunday, Jan. 30 to thank them.
During the time Bell was missing, and after she was found, Durham said the other families were very supportive.
“Every one of you has made an impact on Shaelene and our family,” Durham said.
Rain poured down as they gathered solemnly at a maple tree that was adopted to honour Bell in July.
Candles were lit by the family members that afternoon. Behind the candles sat bouquets of flowers and signs bearing their names of each of the five missing adults.
“Today is a hard day. We are here to remember and honour each and every one of our loved ones,” Durham said.
Naomi Onotera was a Langley woman who last seen on Aug. 28, 2021. RCMP and the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) searched Onotera’s home and on Dec. 18, husband Obnes Regis was arrested and charged with manslaughter.
Trina Hunt was a 48-year-old Port Moody woman who was last seen on Jan. 18, 2021. Her remains were found on March 29 in the Hope area and later identified on May 1, but no arrests have been made.
Jess Nadin was a 22-year-old Chilliwack angler who went missing on Sept. 13, 2021 while fishing on the Fraser River. His body was found on Sept. 22.
Damian Dutrisac was a young Abbotsford angler who was fishing on the Fraser River on May 7, 2021 near the confluence of the Vedder River when his boat capsized. His body was found on July 12.
“As for Shaelene, the police ruled out foul play as they have said that there is no evidence at this time,” Durham said. “As for Shaelene’s mom, I can tell you our family does not rule out anything as we have had some red flags when it comes to Shaelene’s disappearance.”
She also spoke about a proposed bill she penned in honour of her daughter.
In January, Durham put together the bill to get an adult alert system in place called Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert. She brought it to Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl on Jan. 18 who said he is committed to working with Durham to find out which laws and regulations need to be changed to make the adult alert happen.
“Right now this system can only be used for children under the age of 18 and seniors who may be lost due to Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Strahl said in a statement on Jan. 19.
“I’m here to advocate for all families of missing adults,” Durham said. “My daughter and others could be here today if we did not have such a broken system.”
Durham also created a petition to help get the bill passed. People can read and sign the petition by searching “Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert” at change.org.
“Such simple changes make a world of difference. Even if we save one adult, it is more than worth it.”