Rocelyn Gabriel's family wants answers in freezing death
Gabriel, 20, died after being found outside recycling depot in Portage la Prairie, Man.
The family of Rocelyn Gabriel, a 20-year-old woman who froze to death in Portage la Prairie, Man., is pleading for anyone who knows what happened to her to come forward.
Gabriel was found outside the local recycling depot on the morning of Jan. 26. She died in hospital that afternoon.
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"We are here today to ask and seek answers from somebody out there who knows something about her as to what happened," her mother, Joyce Gabriel, told reporters in Winnipeg on Tuesday.
Family members said they've been told that surveillance video outside the depot shows the woman trying to flag down help in blizzard conditions, with temperatures near –40 C.
The family has not viewed the video, fearing it would be too painful to watch.
Nahanni Fontaine, the Manitoba government's special adviser on aboriginal women’s issues, said she did watch the surveillance video and saw Gabriel trying to flag down cars.
"It seems like she was kind of trying to jump and down and she was, you know, walking to different places, trying to keep warm," Fontaine said.
"She didn't reach the street, the road where they were coming, fast enough to be able to flag them down or for them to be able to see her."
Fontaine, who has been working with the family to help them understand the police investigation process, said she doesn't think Gabriel looked disoriented or under the influence that night.
'Somebody knows something out there'
The elder Gabriel said her daughter was at a house party with family and friends the night before.
She said it doesn't make sense that Rocelyn would have walked 2½ kilometres to the recycling depot, passing her own home and 10 different family homes that she could have gone to.
"That's what we don't understand," she said. "Why didn't she go to the families along the way? Or even to our place?"
Gabriel added that her daughter never liked to walk, even for just a couple of blocks, so it doesn't make sense that she would be outside walking in blizzard conditions.
She and other family members said they believe someone took Rocelyn to the recycling depot.
"Somebody knows something out there," Joyce Gabriel said.
"Maybe they're afraid to come forward. But you know, if somebody does know something out there, I urge them to come forward so we can have … closure."
RCMP would only say that foul play has been ruled out in Rocelyn Gabriel's case, and it is not authorized to release the cause of death or toxicology results.