With files by Frank Peebles
A group gathered outside the Quesnel Law Courts to drum, sing and make their presence known at a preliminary inquiry into the murder of Carmelita Abraham.
“It’s my second day here for my daughter’s court, Carmelita Abraham,” Carmelita’s mother, Heather Abraham, told Black Press Media. “My nation has a drum group here to support me and my granddaughter, Carmelita’s daughter, during the court.”
A member of the Talka First Nation, Carmelita went missing from Williams Lake Dec. 27 or 28, 2021. Her body was recovered Jan. 14 at the Willow Inn in Quesnel. Charges of murder and interference with a dead body were sworn against Joseph Simpson.
The preliminary inquiry was scheduled for three days – April 12, 13 and 14. The next court date in the matter is set for May 1.
Heather said they plan to drum each day prior to the inquiry. She noted members from Burns Lake were on hand as well as First Nations from Quesnel, and she thanked everyone for their support.
One of those supporters is well known in Lake Babine Nation territory. William Plasway made the trip from Burns Lake to wear regalia and do what he and Carmelita used to do together: drum. He met her in Vancouver just prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in which he and Carmelita performed. He said the first time he saw her, she was wearing her mother’s ceremonial balhats regalia.
“Carmelita became a role model to our fellow IYG (Indigenous Youth Gathering) members as she was loud and proud,” said Plasway. “We consider ourselves brothers and sisters. She also rapped really well for us including in front of the former Governor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean.”
He said “the athletes treated us like we’re the ones getting the medals. They took pictures of us, high-fived us, shook our hands, and some questioned us about our culture,” but now the win they need is in court where Plasway hopes justice is served.
A publication ban has been put in place over the preliminary inquiry, preventing publication of any details from the hearing.
Carmelita, 33, had been the focus of a missing persons investigation beginning Jan. 4, 2022 when the Williams Lake RCMP received a missing persons report from her family. Investigators were able to confirm that Carmelita left Williams Lake for Quesnel on Dec. 27 or 28.
On Jan. 10, 2022 investigators from the BC RCMP-North District Major Crime Unit attended Quesnel and took conduct of the investigation with assistance from the Quesnel and Williams Lake RCMP, Cariboo Crime Reduction Unit, the North District General Investigation Section and Forensic Identification Sections.
At the time, Mounties said Simpson and Abraham were known to one another. The Willow Inn in Quesnel was the focus of the investigation.