The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed that 42-year-old Lucia Vega Jimenez was found hanging from a shower stall in the immigration holding centre at the Vancouver airport, on Dec. 20, 2013.

She died one week later in a Vancouver hospital without regaining consciousness and was removed from life-support with her family present, says the coroners service in a written release.

News of Vega Jimenez's death coming to light more than a month after it happened has angered many in international and local communities. 

The B.C. Civil Liberties Association says it wonders what took so long and whether there have been other in-custody deaths with the Canada Border Services Agency that have not been reported.

Vancouver-based advocacy group No One Is Illegal has launched a petition calling for a full independent civilian inquiry into Vega Jimenez's death.

Arrested for unpaid transit fare

A written release from the group said Vega Jimenez had a job as a hotel worker in Vancouver when she was arrested last month over an unpaid transit ticket, transferred to jail, then sent to the CBSA holding cells at the Vancouver airport to await deportation.

By midday Wednesday, nearly 500 people had signed the petition

The petition, which also calls for a comprehensive review of migrant detention policies, is addressed to nine people, including CBSA officials, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The CBSA says its holding facilities are regularly monitored by the Red Cross and the United Nations Commission for Refugees and meets international standards.

Richmond RCMP, who were called to investigate, said they have determined there is no criminal wrongdoing involved in Jimenez's death.

No One Is Illegal said it is planning a vigil to honour Vega Jimenez on Friday afternoon in front of the CBSA offices in downtown Vancouver.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story included a photo that may have appeared to be of Lucia Vega Jimenez. In fact, the image was from the television reality show Border Security: Canada's Front Line and was not directly connected to this story.
    Jan 29, 2014 8:22 PM PT
With files from The Canadian Press and Eric Rankin