Funeral today for Fredericton woman police say was victim of homicide
Fredericton police seek any information about death of Candace Stevens, whose body was found in Renous area
Friends and family are paying their respects Friday to Candace (Cree) Stevens, a young Indigenous single mother whose body was discovered Saturday on a rural road southwest of Miramichi.
Her funeral will be held in Fredericton, two days after city police issued a statement that her death is being treated as a homicide.
Police have not said anything about how she was killed or how long ago. Her remains were found near Route 8 and Route 415 in Upper Derby.
'Wish I could have saved her'
Stevens was born in Saint John on Jan. 20, 1987, to Alexander Stevens and the late Violet Abigosis. As a child, she was placed in foster care.
Close friend Teri-Lynn Backs described her as "the strongest person I know," saying the two shared an instant connection.
"I also grew up in the foster system," Backs said. "That is what bonded us instantly. … I met her through an ex-boyfriend. We were both in very toxic, abusive relationships. She helped [me] escape mine."
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Backs said she watched Stevens put herself through school at the Majestany Institute, study late into the night and get up early in the morning as a single mother.
"She was so proud of herself for completing school with the marks she had," Backs said. "She pushed herself even when she felt like quitting. She knew she had to keep going for her daughter. … She was a fighter."
When Backs managed to get clean from drugs, Stevens was "so proud of me," she said.
"I wish I could have saved her the way she saved me."
Ashley Denny met Stevens in 2006 in Woodstock. She said Stevens spent several years living with a friend on Woodstock First Nation, a small Wolastoqey community.
Denny was "shocked" when her sister, Chrissy Denny, and another friend drove from Fredericton to break the news of Stevens's death in person.
Stevens was "there for me a lot," Denny said, adding the two bonded over their kids.
Stevens was known for having a "strong attitude, that's for sure," Denny said.
"She would definitely let you know what was on her mind when she felt a certain way. But she was a great person: if you didn't have something, and she had it, she would definitely give it to you."
'We want to know why'
While Stevens "sometimes didn't make the best choices," Denny said, "No one deserves to have something like that happen to them."
With hashtag #JusticeForCandace circulating on social media, Denny said that for her, "justice" means allowing police and RCMP to complete a thorough investigation.
"We all want to know what happened," she said. "We want to know why it happened.
"It doesn't deserve to happen to anybody. Even with the statistics stating how many Aboriginal women are missing and murdered, I never thought that one would be my friend."
Police seeking information
Stevens is survived by her daughter, Alexa L. Stevens, brother and sister-in-law Richard Stevens and Samantha Stevens of Fredericton, brother Alexander Stevens-Abigosis of Toronto, cousin Crystal MacPherson, and several nieces and nephews.
Visitation will take place at St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church on Friday at 75 Main St. in Fredericton from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. with Rev. John Galbraith and Rev. Paul Ranson officiating.
Remembrances can be made to Autism Connections Fredericton Inc., and personal condolences may be offered through York Funeral Home's website.
On Wednesday, Fredericton police said the investigation into Stevens's death is continuing and further updates will be provided as they become available.
Anyone with information about the case is asked to contact Fredericton police at 506-460-2300 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or www.crimenb.ca.