On Oct. 4, people across Canada took part in Sisters in Spirit vigils honouring missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.
That same day, the mother of a Chilliwack woman whose body was found more than four months after she went missing asked for the community’s help to bring awareness to a proposed missing adult alert.
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Keeler Bell, is urging people to write to Canada’s Governor General Mary Simon asking for a bill to be passed to help create Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert in honour of her daughter.
Bell, a 23-year-old mother of Chilliwack, went missing on Jan. 30, 2021. Her body was found on June 2, 2021 in the Fraser River near Coquitlam.
Durham’s plea to get the adult alert in place also came the same week that 43-year-old Chilliwack woman Tammy White went missing. Her body was found Oct. 9 in the Fraser River near Mission.
“We hear more and more about adults going missing everyday, all over Canada. There is a lack of will, there is a lack of pressure and a lack of regulation,” Durham wrote on Oct. 4.
In her public post, she asked Simon to “please step up and help me to put Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert in place.”
Durham has been working tirelessly to get the alert in place since January, writing letters and making phone calls to provincial and federal governments, RCMP, National Public Alerting System, Alert Ready Emergency Alert System, Emergency Management BC and others.
For the alert to be issued, first law enforcement would confirm the adult is missing and that they are at risk of imminent danger/death. An alert would then be issued and would include the person’s name, age, picture, and any other info like last known location and their vehicle description.
If Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert is passed, authorities would be able to expand the use of the National Public Alerting System to include adults who go missing under suspicious circumstances.
“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,” Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl said in January.
Durham said “it takes a village” to make this change.
“This change is long overdue. As good pillars of our community let’s all work together for the good of others. Let’s remember and honour all missing adults today,” she said.
Letters in support of Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert can be sent to the Governor General of Canada Mary Simon at email@example.com or by mail to: Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ont., K1A 0A1.
In January, Durham created a petition on change.org called ‘Pass Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert’ with a goal of getting 5,000 signatures. As of Oct. 7, more than 3,500 people had signed the petition.