The Saskatchewan family of an Indigenous man who disappeared shortly after being picked up intoxicated by the Mission RCMP, have confirmed the human remains found on April 6 belong to their son.
B.C.’s police watchdog, the Independent Investigations Office (IIO), is now investigating Brandon Sakebow’s death, as he was arrested by RCMP officers shortly before he disappeared.
“The IIO will investigate to determine what role, if any, police actions or inaction may have played in the man’s death,” said an IIO news release on April 28. “Information provided by the RCMP indicates that on March 21, 2020, a man was arrested, lodged in RCMP cells overnight and released later that day.”
Sakebow’s body was discovered by a hiker in a forested area near the 31000 block of Hillcrest Avenue, less than 400 meters north of the Mission RCMP detachment.
|The approximate location of where Sakebow's body was found, less than 400 meters away from the Mission RCMP detachment.|
The family said they were notified of the discovery in an emergency meeting with Mission RCMP officers on April 7, and DNA testing confirmed the identity April 27. He was 23-years old.
His family claimed to have received inconsistent information and poor communication from the RCMP during the initial stages of his missing person’s file, which was only remedied after Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) investigators became involved.
“Everything about him missing, him being found, where he was found – it just raises a lot more questions with the family through the RCMP,” said Debra Sakebow, his aunt. “Nothing makes sense.”
The family, who live in Pelican Lake First Nation, have made approximately 10 trips to B.C. to search for Sakebow since his missing persons report was filed on March 27, 2020. His mother, Laurie, made even more trips alone.
In September 2020, the family was shown footage from inside the holding cell where Sakebow was reportedly held, but questioned whether the man in the images was actually him. They’ve been working with FSIN investigators to get the entire nine hours of footage released to them, Debra said.
Sakebow was paroled from federal prison in late February 2020, and spent time in an Abbotsford halfway house before a fire displaced all the residents. His belongings, his cellphone, wallet and clothes, were discovered in a stolen van in Mission by Abbotsford Police on March 24.
FSIN has requested an autopsy and toxicology report from the B.C. Coroners officer, Debra said. She said the family and FSIN investigators will sit down with Mission RCMP officers at some point in the future.
The FSIN is the only Canadian provincial Indigenous agency, and represents all the First Nations in Saskatchewan.
|Hundreds turned out for an awareness walk and candlelight vigil in Saskatchewan on March 20, to mark a full-year since Laurie Sakebow last heard from her son, Brandon.|