Woman’s suspected murder ‘devastating,’ says KDFN chief

A young woman's death has sparked worries among citizens of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, a community still reeling from an unresolved murder committed six months ago.

A young woman’s death has sparked worries among citizens of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation, a community still reeling from an unresolved murder committed six months ago.

On Monday evening the body of a First Nation woman was found on a walking trail in the McIntyre subdivision. She has been identified by friends and family on social media as 17-year-old Brandy Vittrekwa, a student at Porter Creek Secondary School.

Vittrekwa was born in Fort McPherson, N.W.T., and spent time growing up in Old Crow before moving to Whitehorse.

The incident is being investigated as a homicide, and foul play is suspected, according to a news release.

Two weeks ago, the family of Allan Waugh publicly announced it was seeking more help investigating his murder.

On May 30 at 7:35 a.m. police were called to Waugh’s home on McCrimmon Crescent, where the 69-year-old was found dead. Foul play was believed to be involved.

The RCMP launched an investigation into the circumstances of his death but has so far had no luck finding a suspect.

Yesterday afternoon, Chief Doris Bill held a news conference in which she described a community in pain.

“Our community members – their anxiety levels are heightened because of this,” she said.

“This is devastating to our community and we’ll do whatever we can to support the family, our citizens and our youth.

“People were extremely upset this morning and understandably so.”

Bill confirmed the young woman was not a citizen of the First Nation but said she could not release any additional details about her.

Jeanie Dendys, director of justice for the First Nation, said a crisis management team was convened yesterday and made counselling services available to anyone in the community needing support.

She said the death made an especially big impact on the First Nation’s youth.

When asked by a reporter whether the First Nation was a safe place to live, Bill paused.

She mentioned that at this year’s annual general assembly, held in late October, many citizens stood up to talk about instances of violence and abuse they’d suffered in the community.

“There is a safety issue and it’s been there for several years, in fact more than that,” Bill said.

“We realize there is a need amongst our citizens for change. We’ve been doing what we can as a government.

“We have counsellors and a wellness team in place but what it really boils down to is if people want change, that change has to come from within.”

Dendys said it proves that citizens aren’t reporting crimes, and they should be.

The death of the young woman coincided with the RCMP stepping up its presence in the community, a result of discussions at the general assembly.

Police presence in the First Nation has been limited for quite some time, Dendys said, but there have been discussions to fill more positions and make sure officers are on duty in the community.

“We were really excited about having them start this week and now we had this incident happen,” Dendys said.

“Someone out there knows what happened to Allen Waugh. Someone in this community knows what happened with this incident.

“That’s our plea to citizens of the Yukon – if you know anything, come forward.”

Dendys said the RCMP told her there are approximately 30 to 40 officers working on this case right now.

Bill said there are also plans to examine the various trails and paths around the community and possibly block some of them off.

Citizens have suggested other options, such as a neighborhood watch.

“It’s a difficult issue and we won’t solve it overnight,” Bill said.

“We’re urging citizens to come forward and talk to us. If the community wants change, it has to come from within.”

A community meeting will be held tonight from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at the Na Kwa Ta Ku Potlatch House to provide citizens with more information and hear their concerns.

RCMP investigators are asking anyone who has information or who witnessed suspicious activity in the area of Hanna Crescent or Murphy Road to contact them at 667-5555.

Contact Myles Dolphin at

myles@yukon-news.com

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