Those who knew Shawnee Inyallie and want to say their goodbyes can do so at 4 p.m. today, at Henderson’s Funeral Home in Chilliwack.
Shawnee Morita Inyallie, a 29-year-old Hope woman, vanished without a trace from the community in mid-July. Her body was found Nov. 4 by the Fraser River in Delta and family are now making arrangements to put her to rest.
When The Hope Standard reached Inyallie’s aunties Linda Peters and Juanita Pete Sunday, they had just finished picking out a dress and a matching pink scarf for Inyallie to be cremated in.
“She’s going to be cremated, so she isn’t going to be at the service. We’re just going to have a picture of her on Tuesday there, and a service. That’s why we’re having a visit with her on Monday,” said Peters about what is planned for today.
The memorial event is open to those who want to say their goodbye’s to Inyallie, it will be held 4 p.m. at Henderson’s Funeral Home, 45901 Victoria Ave. in Chilliwack.
Finding a loved one dead is an awful thought for any family, but Inyallie’s aunties are glad they are able to put her body to rest.
“I’m just glad that we found her and that she’s at peace and she’s on the other side with the other ancestors and we’re not worried where she is anymore. I’m glad that she’s found and she’s at rest now,” said Pete.
“I believe she’s in a peaceful place with our ancestors and the rest of her family that went before her. She has aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters that have gone before her,” Peters added.
During the nearly four months Inyallie was missing, her brother stated the family has ‘felt anger and sadness like no other.’
In a text message, Pete expressed his disappointment with media overlooking missing persons, or labeling them as statistics.
“A family member is never a number. They are a brother, sister, mom, dad aunt, uncle, grandmother or grandfather. Before they are native or any other race, junky or drunk, they are human,” he stated. “No matter the circumstances that brought any of them to where they are, being missing or passed away, they are an important part of somebody’s family.”
The community response has been overwhelming, Peters said, with many sharing condolences and happy memories of her niece.
“People have been sharing stories with us and it’s nice to hear that she was really well-loved around town. I know she struggled, but she’s at peace now. I’m just sad that she had to leave at such a young age,” she said.
The volunteers who searched for Inyallie, shared missing persons posters and offered other contributions were thanked by Patrick Pete, stating ‘we owe a debt of gratitude to them all.’
The family has been told by the RCMP that no foul play is suspected, however, questions remain about when, where and how Inyallie ended up in the Fraser River.
“There’s a homeless camp close by the river in Hope and my understanding is that’s where she was seen last. So if that’s the case, she travelled an awful long way. That’s like 200 kilometres, and I’d also like to know how do they know when she actually died,” said Peters. The family is awaiting a coroner’s report into Inyallie’s death.
Peters said there are also plans to visit the site Inyallie was found with the RCMP, to do a smudging or ceremony there.
When asked what the family needs now, they said food for Inyallie’s wake and service are always welcome.
Community members are welcome to drop off a pot of soup, a nice dish, buns, a dessert or other food items either tonight (Monday) at the wake for Shawnee, or Tuesday before the service which starts at 10 a.m. Both gatherings take place at Chawathil First Nation.
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