Who failed Traevon?
Nancy Macdonald, Mike Hager
“Died in care.” It’s a phrase that mocks the very system intended to provide a safe place for young people at risk. Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux died in care, by suicide, at 17. He was found dead in his bedroom closet at the Indigenous-centred facility where he’d been living for nine months. Staff had failed to find his body or see the suicide notes left by his bed. Moved by Traevon’s story, reporter Nancy Macdonald embarked on a master class of investigative reporting, spending weeks trying to discover what had gone so wrong for the teenager. Her investigation revealed an appalling array of failures, from untrained staff workers, to the agency meant to care for Traevon and other traumatized Indigenous youth, and to the B.C. government for its lack of oversight. Though Traevon died in 2020, a public inquest was called into his death less than one week after this investigation was published in 2022. In response to one of the inquest’s many recommendations, B.C. Premier David Eby announced his government would phase out group homes in the foster child system. With dogged and sensitive reporting, Macdonald exposed the fatal flaws in a system that utterly failed Traevon Desjarlais-Chalifoux.