‘More than a headline’: Sabrina Jack’s family opens up about how she lived life

The Jack family remembers their Sabrina’s humour, care and strength.

Sabrina Jack

Supported by his family, Alfred Jack renews call for information about his daughter’s untimely death, so his family can begin their healing journey. Photo Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews

Alfred Jack says he hopes his community and the RCMP can come together to speak about his daughters’ untimely death last year.

“We are waiting for this to be resolved before most of us can even carry on. It’s just so hard,” says Jack.

On June 8, 2019, Sabrina, a 33 year-old mother of two boys, Dreyson and Devlin, was hanging out with friends when her life was cut tragically short.

Her family does not want her story to be yet another story of a missing or murdered Indigenous woman. They want to remember and honour her spirit.

Sabrina, from Tl’esqox, one of six communities in the Tŝilhqot’in Nation, always made sure her family had everything they needed before they ran out the door and she’d greet each one with their own nickname says Liz Rosette, Sabrina’s sister.

She’s known as the “nickname giver in the family,” she says. After bugging her siblings a bit, she would laugh, Liz Rosette says. “She had such a careless laugh.”

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Sabrina’s youngest son Dreyson (centre) is now being raised by his grandfather Alfred Jack. Photo: Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews

Sabrina Jack was a caretaker, remembers Tiara Solomon, Sabrina’s youngest sister.

When she was around, she was often in the kitchen, cooking up wild meats, filling the house with the warm sweet scent of a home-cooked meal. She was a Tŝilhqot’in mother, daughter, sister, aunty, friend.

The family is still waiting for answers about what happened the night she died.

“We haven’t heard anything positive in any way, and by that I mean from the whole community or anybody,” Jack says, now more than a  year after his daughter’s death.

Her death has divided the small community of 130 band members, he says.

Alfred continues to encourage anyone who might have information to come forward.

“I would just like to ask the community if anyone knows anything, go ahead and speak up and it don’t matter who it is, or wherever they come from,” says Alfred Jack. “All we want is justice and for this to end.”

‘There’s no way she fell on her own knife’

Alfred Jack, Sabrina’s father, found out about his daughter’s death when he got home from a fishing trip that summer day.

“We got a phone call and they told us to go straight to the house and we did…then they told us right there,” Jack remembers, as his voice shakes, during a phone interview. “I had to go right down there [in another community members’ driveway] and look. We couldn’t believe it. I had to go down and look myself.

“I got close, but not close enough. I could see her. That was about it,” he says.

The Jack family was told by Williams Lake RCMP officers that Sabrina had died from fatal injuries caused by a knife.

Rumours quickly spread throughout the small community that she might have “fell and injured herself on her knife,” says her sister Liz Rosette.

The family doesn’t believe Sabrina died by accident.

Sabrina often had her pocket knife on her, “because that’s just the way she was,” her father says.

“That was her safety, her backup, and there’s no way she would’ve hurt herself on her own knife.”

Sabrina always carried a knife, but she wasn’t the type to let people know, Alfred Jack says adding that his daughter would only pull out her knife if she absolutely had to use it.

Cpl. Madonna Saunderson of the RCMP told IndigiNews that, “since the moment police were first notified of Sabrina’s death we have treated the matter as a homicide, and continue to do so. One individual was previously arrested for murder, however was released pending further investigation.

“We maintain regular contact with the family regarding the status of the investigation and significant developments.”

A woman of strength, humour and love

On the evening of Oct. 14, the Jack family gathered around the family home and shared memories and stories about their daughter, sister, mother, and loved one with IndigiNews.

The family was reluctant to focus on the day Sabrina died, but they were eager to speak about her life.

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Sabrina Jack (centre) in 2018 at her friend Snow and Cory Diiablos’ wedding. Sabrina was often surrounded by those who loved her. Photo: Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews

“She valued her family and her boys,” says Alfred Jack.

When Sabrina was pregnant with her oldest son Devlin, who’s now 15, she was a powerhouse of strength, shared by her large family of 16, shared Liz Rosette.

“When she was pregnant our brother Lawrence Rosette was graduating from high school,” Rosette remembers. “Sabrina was the only one who showed up for Lawrence on the day, on time. She made sure she was in his grad pictures…with her big belly and everything.”

Sabrina gave birth to her first son a few days after.

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Sabrina Jack’s family gathered to memorialize her life, in their home community in Tl’esqox in October. Photo: Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews

Her family also remembers Sabrina’s ability to mediate tense situations.

“If she noticed a room is quiet she’d come in and yell, ‘why is everyone so serious!?’ then she would make everyone laugh,” shares Liz Rosette.

She was as much a fighter as a caregiver.

Sabrina worked as a wildfire firefighter for over a decade where she was a crew boss in the industry, known for her strength and knowledge in the field says, Robert Rosette, Sabrina’s brother. When she wasn’t fighting fires, she cared for the younger siblings, and her nieces and nephews.

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Sabrina Jack was taken too soon, leaving behind her two children, nieces and nephews. Photo Kelsie Kilawna/IndigiNews

“My memories of her are mostly of her being a caretaker,” says Solomon.

“She would get all of us kids to yell like we were being chased when we all held hands to cross the street to make it more fun so we would actually want to hold hands,” she says.

Getting more serious, Solomon also remembers a strong teaching her sister shared that she will never forget.

“I was complaining about some classmate and said that I hated them,” she says. “She got all serious and told me ‘hate is a very heavy word, don’t use it without thought,’ and since then I rarely used the word hate.”

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Sabrina playing with the children as the family has said she did often. Photo courtesy: Liz Rosette.

Gathered together, her siblings, parents, and extended family shared story after story of the love and humour Sabrina shared in her 33 years of life.

They talked about how she used to always leave notes for people. Sabrina’s brother, Kehew Jack, then picked up a note she had left him.

“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do, bubby boy and I will always love you,” Sabrina wrote.

Since her death, the family has been left to care for themselves and her children. They’re cherishing the memories of her spirit while continuing to fight for answers.

The family asks if anyone has information to please contact Crime Stoppers.

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