Spuzzum First Nation chief James Hobart is crediting a close relationship with RCMP in Hope not only for the recent Community Safety Agreement but in the respectful treatment of the ongoing search for April Parisian.
Hobart specifically credited Const. Jaden Courtney for forming a rapport with the community during a difficult time both globally and locally.
“During COVID, during one of the worst times in our nation, we had a girl go missing, and we had to open up our community in a time of closure,” Hobart said. Hobart added had the policing services discussion between the RCMP and 14 First Nations communities across the upper Fraser Valley not being in the works, the community would have been more hesitant to accept RCMP being on their land.
“They did act with the utmost respect,” Hobart continued. “As leaders, we’re faced with many unforeseen challenges just as (April’s disappearance) every hour of every day. I’m so proud to have worked alongside the four chiefs representing the other chiefs with the RCMP to take on this work.”
Hobart was one of four First Nations chiefs forming a steering committee in 2018 as police worked with local First Nations communities to form an enhanced policing plan. Of the 24 First Nations communities in the Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment, 15 had no agreement with the RCMP about policing services and cultural expectations until it was formalized earlier this month.
Chiefs Maureen Chapman (Skwahlook), Derek Epp (Tzeachten) and Mark Point (Skowkale) were the other three chiefs on the steering committee.
April Lee-Ann Parisian is described by police as an Indigenous female in her mid-40s with blonde hair and blue eyes, 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches) tall, weighing 127 kilograms (280 pounds.). Her family last heard from her on April 5, 2020.
How you can help
Anyone with information on Parisian or her whereabouts should call the IHIT information line at 1-877-551-4448, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Should you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
There is a Facebook group at Facebook.com/groups/searchforapril with consistent updates and information on ways to help bringing April home, including saying prayers, participating in active searches, posting flyers to keep April’s search in the public eye and donating to fundraising efforts.