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B.C. mother pens bill that would add adults to missing person alert systems

The mother of a woman whose body was found after missing for four months is working to get a bill passed that would create an “adult alert” in hopes of helping families dealing with loved ones gone missing.

Alina Durham’s daughter, 23-year-old Shaelene Keeler Bell of Chilliwack, went missing on Jan. 30, 2021. Her body was found on June 2 in the Fraser River near Coquitlam.

Durham has written up Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert bill and is now taking steps to try and get it passed. She created an online petition to bring attention to it and spoke with Chilliwack-Hope MP Mark Strahl earlier this week.

For the alert to be issued, first law enforcement would confirm the adult is missing and that they are at risk of imminent danger/death. An alert would then be issued and would include the person’s name, age, picture, and any other info like last known location and their vehicle description.

If Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert is passed, authorities would be able to expand the use of the National Public Alerting System to include adults who go missing under suspicious circumstances.

“Right now this system can only be used for children under the age of 18 and seniors who may be lost due to Alzheimer’s or dementia,” Strahl said.

Durham recalled how overwhelming it was amid the “shock and trauma” to put up posters, banners and do media interviews when her daughter was missing.

READ MORE: Body of missing Chilliwack 23-year-old mom found

“When legislation passes this bill, the impact this will have will result in dramatically reducing stress on families of a missing adult,” Durham wrote in the online petition. “To know it will be put out Canada-wide via wireless devices, radio and TV is a comfort and reassurance to families of a missing adult.”

Durham pointed out that the infrastructure is already in place. Other alerts that are already being used include: BC Silver Alert, Amber Alert, weather alerts, B.C. COVID-19 Public Exposure mobile app, national Alert Ready system, and the British Columbia Emergency Alerting System.

Strahl said he is committed to working with Durham to find out which laws and regulations need to be changed to make Shaelene’s Missing Adult Alert happen, and is also working on a list of criteria that would be used to trigger an alert for a missing adult.

“If there are changes that need to be made at the federal level I will certainly advance this issue in the House of Commons through a Private Member’s Bill or motion,” he said.

Durham said she’s also going to reach out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Governor General Mary Simon. In the meantime, she’s asking for folks to sign the petition.

“I’m asking the community to step up and support this bill,” Durham said. “The bill is something Shaelene would believe in strongly and would not give up on until passed. Shaelene believed in doing what is best for others.”

The online petition can be found at change.org.

“It was inspiring to speak with someone who is trying to make a difference in the lives of others after suffering the unimaginable tragedy of losing a daughter,” Strahl said. “She is determined to make positive change and I will help her in any way that I can.”


 

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Jenna Hauck

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