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Ada Elaine Brown was the youngest of eight siblings from Tahltan First Nation in Telegraph Creek, B.C. The 41-year-old was a mother of two and someone who was deeply loved by her family.
On April 9, 2001, her body was found in a hotel room in Prince George, B.C.
According to documents obtained from the B.C. Coroner’s Office, she died from a "subdural hemorrhage" and complications from alcoholism.
However, even though the post-mortem mentioned previous assaults, and it even noted that Brown had two black eyes when she died, the coroner's office determined that "this death is classified as undetermined."
No one was ever charged in Brown’s death.
Her family says officials told them immediately after Ada’s death that she had died of natural causes — something they continue to disagree with.
“It was even before the autopsy was concluded, and that’s what they told my sister,” said Terri Brown, one of Ada’s older sisters, recalling what officials told another sibling who handled the paperwork related to her death.
“I don't think there was much of an investigation,” she added.
Brown said she has seen too many cases involving Indigenous women whose deaths are attributed to natural causes.
“But when I finally got the autopsy report — it must have been a year later — in there, it stated she died from an aneurysm,” she said.
What the family knows is that their sister went to the doctor to treat a headache. Instead of a proper examination, Ada was sent home with only Tylenol after two visits, they said.
On the third day, Ada died.
“She went there and she must have really been suffering,” Brown said of her sister’s efforts to get medical help.
But it wasn’t until the family received Ada’s body that Brown said they noticed the bruises and the black eyes on Ada’s face.
The autopsy report says Ada told the doctor she had been assaulted by an unknown female downtown. It also states that there was an “unsubstantiated history of an assault five days prior to her death.”
The cause of death was attributed to a subdural hemorrhage — something not possible to relate to the alleged assault, nor to exclude it as a possibility either, it reads.
But because of its circumstances, it was concluded that Ada’s death was undetermined.
The family strongly believes a man Ada knew was responsible for her death. The man was extremely abusive towards her, her sister Terri said.
“He was known as a shady guy, the street guy, the drugs. He was really known to be really mean to her, to beat her,” Brown said. “She told my older sister a lot of this.”
Brown added, “She said it herself — ‘If I ever die, it is because of him.’”
Terri Brown said she believes many people failed her younger sister.
She questions how Ada’s death was so easily dismissed by officials. She questions the overall lack of investigation by police. As well, she has questions about how the official conclusion did not match the autopsy report or how her sister’s body looked when returned to the family.
The doctor, too, failed Ada, said Brown.
“They should be more careful with battered women, you know,” she said.
Brown does not know how many people were actually questioned by the officials at the time.
The RCMP’s "E" Division told CBC News that once they review the file in consultation with the B.C. Coroner’s Office and family members, they will be able to provide more information about Ada’s case.
Always remembered as someone who was outgoing and to fun to be around, and as someone who spent a lot of time with her mom and dad, today Ada Brown is resting in the cemetery in Watson Lake, Yukon, beside her mother.
CBC News continues to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, looking at the unsolved cases and telling the stories of the families and communities.