A Chilliwack mom spent part of Canada Day collecting signatures in an effort to change the wording in B.C.’s Amber Alert.
Alina Durham, mother of Shaelene Keeler Bell, was at Townsend Park in Chilliwack on Saturday, July 1 asking folks to sign a petition in honour of her late daughter. Bell, a 23-year-old Chilliwack mother, went missing on Jan. 30, 2021. Her body was found on June 2, 2021 in the Fraser River near Coquitlam.
Durham has worked tirelessly for the past two years to get an alert in place for adults who go missing under suspicious circumstances. She wants to get the wording in B.C.’s Amber Alert system changed to include victims over the age of 18. All other criteria in the alert would remain the same.
Durham is now physically going to events around town – such as Chilliwack’s Canada Day celebrations – collecting signatures.
“People can take a second to make such a difference,” she said. “By all working together we can all be a part of making change happen.”
Amber Alerts are governed by provincial law enforcement policies, so Durham went to Chilliwack-Kent MLA Kelli Paddon in May and together they wrote up a petition.
“The petition of the undersigned, residents, of the province of British Columbia, states that: the criteria for issuance of an Amber Alert be expanded to include people of all ages who are missing but would otherwise meet the RCMP criteria for the issuance of an Amber Alert for adolescents. Your petitioners respectfully request that the Honourable House urge the government to effect this change and take such action as may be deemed appropriate,” reads the short, two-sentence petition.
As of July 4, Paddon said Durham had collected more than 200 ‘pen-on-paper’ signatures and they are now working on an electronic petition as well.
E-petitions were introduced in 2021 during the pandemic, and electronic signatures are allowed on provisional basis, Paddon said, adding that the e-petition should be available soon.
”I’m sure that we’ll see support from other areas of the province as well” once the electronic petition has been created, Paddon said.
In the meantime, Durham is asking people to print out the petition and sign it, and get friends and family members to do the same.
“I’m trying to emphasis the impact of working together,” Durham said. “We’ve come this far. This is the final push. This is a joint effort – all of us together.”
There is no minimum number of signatures needed to present the petition, but they both agreed the more the better.
Paddon will be presenting the signed copies through the B.C. Legislation when Durham feels she has enough signatures. The earliest it will be brought to the Legislature is in October when assembly sittings resume.
“She is absolutely unwavering when it comes to advocating for things and I think that is fantastic,” Paddon said of Durham.
Folks can print out the petition by going to docdro.id/B7FBQov. Once signed, people can drop it off or mail it to 47193 Sylvan Dr., Chilliwack B.C., V2R OR8. There’s room for six signatures on the petition, but people can send it to the above address with fewer than six signatures.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story stated e-petitions and e-signatures were not allowed. After reaching out to the clerk’s office, Paddon got clarification that they have been allowed since 2021.