The mother of a 24-year-old Grand Forks woman charged in a stabbing at Gyro Park on Saturday says the system let her daughter down by not providing round-the-clock supports.
Barbara Doran says her daughter, Raven Chan, has been diagnosed with autism and has developmental disabilities and other disorders.
“Raven is a very complex individual and needs very complex care,” Doran said in an interview. “She is kind, passionate, excitable, sometimes difficult. She can be very agreeable or oppositional depending on the situation. If someone is irritated she can end up mirroring that back.
“She gives freely of her belongings and money to the point where it’s detrimental to herself, where she doesn’t have money left for food.”
Doran said Chan aged out of foster care in Kelowna in 2017 and then became a client of Community Living BC. She said at that time, she was designated as needing 24/7 support, but the service provider didn’t initially recognize it. Later they claimed they didn’t have always the means to provide it. Doran complained, but says the result was that Chan was reduced to 20 hours of support per week.
“When I made a kafuffle about that, they said ‘Raven requested that. She’s the client. We have to honor the client’s wishes.’ My response to that is she didn’t have the executive functioning to make that decision.”
Doran moved to the Boundary in 2020 and things got worse for her daughter, who ended up homeless and going from shelter to shelter in Kelowna. Although she does not have drug or alcohol issues, Chan was kicked out because of her needs and behavior.
She ended up living in a tent before phoning her mother in December 2021. She had twice lived with her before, but Doran says she didn’t have the supports her daughter required and “it went downhill quickly each time. I was putting myself in danger. It was a really tough situation.”
However, in Grand Forks, Chan began to flourish as a client of Sunshine Valley Community Services. “They’re such an amazing organization,” Doran said. “Raven was doing much, much better. She has a big heart and does want to be part of the community. She wants friends. She’s very social.”
She began volunteering with the Boundary Helping Hands Feline Rescue Society and Gospel Chapel and wanted to volunteer with the thrift store, but Doran says some of her issues stood in the way. While some people understood her situation and were patient with her, others were not.
Doran said at times Chan can act her age and you wouldn’t notice anything amiss. But at other times, “she’s operating at a six to 15 year old level depending on where she is in the moment and what’s going on in her head.”
Chan is accused of stabbing a woman with a knife on Saturday and faces two assault-related counts. She is being held in custody pending her next court appearance on Tuesday. Neither Doran nor Chan’s lawyer have been able to speak to her.
Doran said she worried that without constant support, Chan was at risk of doing something rash.
“I predicted she would be harmful to herself or could hurt another person in a moment of escalation or misunderstanding. She’s got the developmental disability and some mental health issues. With those things in combination it was just a matter of time before it became a cascading failure.
“I don’t condone what happened but I understand if Raven was feeling anxious or scared and didn’t have a support worker to make better choices. The whole thing could have been prevented. She’s not a problem person, she’s a person with problems.”
Doran said her efforts to advocate for Chan have sometimes been met with resistance.
“I became the squeaky wheel. That’s all I’ve tried to do for her over the years is get what she needs. I sometimes feel like I’m being made out to be the problem instead of the problem being the problem.
“The stronger I advocate, the more vocal I become, sometimes the feedback I get from others is ‘You’re too much.’ Well, this is my daughter and I’m trying to get services for her that she’s supposed to be getting.
“I love my daughter and want to see her succeed in life. She can, if she has the right support. So far she hasn’t been getting that, even though she’s supposed to.”
Community Living BC said it couldn’t comment on the specific case for privacy reasons, but in general it has a “careful process for assessing the needs of people who are eligible for CLBC services and for funding their services.
“CLBC services are voluntary, and CLBC respects the right of people to make their own decisions. Most people CLBC serves are able to do so.
“If someone feels that a person is mentally incapable of managing themselves they can apply to the court to become a committee of person.”