A Native woman found dead in a ditch who was wearing no shoes and had no cellphone back in July has seen a recent upsurge in exposure as social media has erupted against the findings of the RCMP, which ruled the death as ‘not suspicious.”
According to the Vancouver Sun, the 27-year-old indigenous woman, Brittany Martel from Hay River, N.W.T., was found dead in a ditch off the busy B.C. highway near the Mine Creek Road exit on July 22 when a motorist came across her body while out for a walk as traffic was stopped due to an unrelated accident.
Social media response in full force after the findings of Merritt RCMP Cpl. Derrick Francis who sated “The autopsy didn’t show any obvious cause of death at this point, so the pathologist is still looking into it … We don’t know for sure what caused her death.”
Francis also said police still have questions regarding how Martel ended up in the ditch and became deceased, however the death isn’t considered criminal in nature because there was nothing in the autopsy indicating any harm had come to her.
Billie Jean Gabriel, an organizer of a vigil for Martel, wrote on Facebook that the “pain of what happened is enough for all of us to stand with the family.” Gabriel wrote that the findings by the RCMP as “deeper than insult and injury” and asked that people demand justice for Brittany.
Family members said the police informed them Martel had no shoes on and no cellphone when she was found.
A massive backlash to the findings hit Twitter:
One person DriveByPoster wrote on Twitter, “Sad when they make it seem normal to be dead and in a ditch because you're Indigenous. Had it been a white woman there would have been a multi-agency investigation spending millions.”
Another, MaryAlice wrote: “How in the world can someone be found dead in a ditch without shoes or a cell phone and this not be suspicious?”
The investigation has since been turned over to the B.C. Coroner’s office.
Follow Indian Country Today’s associate editor and senior correspondent, Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling