As Chelsea Poorman’s family continues to search for answers about what happened to their daughter, advocates for missing and murdered Indigenous women and other supporters say they are “disgusted” to see that some of the missing persons posters were torn over the weekend.
“It was very upsetting and just felt out of place,” said Chelsea mother Sheila Poorman.
For a year and a half, Sheila Poorman and her two other daughters have been posting missing persons posters across the city after Chelsea, 24, was reported missing in September 2020.
Chelsea’s mostly skeletal remains were discovered in April 2022, on the back patio of an unoccupied home near Granville Street and West 36th Avenue in the Shaughnessy neighborhood.
After a vigil on Saturday, a volunteer captured video of Randy Vogel, a Vancouver real estate agent, removing posters in the Granville Street and West 33rd Avenue area.
“I had to pull out my phone with the number of signs it was falling,” Lavita Trimble told CBC News.
WATCH | Estate agent removes Chelsea Poorman’s missing persons posters
“I ran half a block to take a better picture and record it. I asked him, ‘Why do you mind?’ and his answer was: “It’s vandalism”.
Trimble, a counselor with Battered Women’s Support Services (BWSS), said she was immediately disappointed by his response and did not understand Vogel’s actions.
“It’s not vandalism. It’s a wake-up call for the family that needs help. We have to be careful of each other. It’s not just Indigenous women who are being targeted, it’s the vulnerable people,” she said.
Vigil volunteers said they also saw another woman removing posters on Saturday.
“She said it damaged the poles [and] that she pays taxes for the poles,” Saz Lambert told CBC News.
“It makes me feel really disappointed with the community here.”
Posters as part of efforts to find answers
Lorelei Williams, founder of Butterflies in Spirit – a dance group made up of family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls – says actions like this put Indigenous communities at risk.
“The predators know when they can target us because they can get away with it. They’re getting away with it right now,” Williams said.
“It’s disgusting that these are the kind of people we face on a daily basis. These are the reasons our women are disappearing and being murdered at such a high rate.”
She said Chelsea’s death raised questions about how police handled the case and that the missing persons posters were part of efforts to find answers and justice for what happened to her.
Vogel’s employer, Macdonald Realty, said it took immediate action and Vogel was no longer with the company.
“As an organization, we fully support Chelsea Poorman’s family and friends as they seek answers and justice,” said Dan Scarrow, President of Macdonald Realty.
“We do not condone any inappropriate action taken by any member of our community, and in this case we took immediate action and they are no longer with Macdonald Realty.”