Police say a suspect has been arrested in connection with the death of 17-year-old Brandy Vittrekwa after her body was found on a Whitehorse trail Monday.
“No charges have been laid at this time,” Const. D.J. Hoogland told HuffPost Canada on Thursday.
Vittrekwa’s body was discovered on Kwanlin Dun First Nation land on a trail near a residential subdivision. Mounties have called the death suspicious and say foul play is suspected. An investigation is ongoing.
Violet Robert, Vittrekwa’s cousin, told APTN News her cousin was well-liked by her peers and friends.
“She was just happy – and just a loving spirit,” she said.
Vittrekwa is from Fort McPherson, a Northwest Territories hamlet off the Peel River, according to her Facebook profile. It’s a small community of about 800 residents.
Members of the Kwanlin Dun First Nation held a vigil for Vittrekwa on Wednesday. A community meeting was also held to address safety concerns in the McIntyre subdivision where the teenager’s body was found.
She lived in Whitehorse at the time of her death and attended school at Porter Creek Secondary.
The discovery of Vittrekwa’s body comes days after Rinelle Harper addressed the Assembly of First Nations in Winnipeg. She urged leaders to push for an inquiry into the country’s cases of missing and murdered women.
“As a survivor, I respectfully challenge you all to call for a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women,” said the 16-year-old on Tuesday, holding an eagle feather presented to her by an elder.
Last month, Harper was found by Winnipeg’s Assiniboine River after being assaulted, beaten and left for dead by two men. A 20-year-old man and 17-year-old currently face charges of attempted murder and sexual assault in connection to the attack.
Vittrekwa's death and Harper's plea come amid renewed pressure on the federal government to launch a national public inquiry.
The prime minister previously brushed off the requests this summer, despite increasing scrutiny from the public, opposition parties, premiers, and First Nation leaders.
A report issued by the RCMP earlier this year pegged the number of murdered and missing Aboriginal women at approximately 1,181.
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