Sabrina Rosette wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
Growing up on the Tl’esqox (Toosey Reserve) First Nation in British Columbia, Canada, she spent her days hunting and fishing.
When she was just 16 years old, she began helping the crews of the reserve with firefighting and flood patrol. It was a career - and passion - she stuck with for years, and always jumped at the chance to volunteer.
“She was so determined - in everything she did,” Sabrina’s older sister, Liz Rosette, told Dateline. “She was a hard worker, always wanted to do her best, and just loved helping others.”
Sabrina’s father, Alfred Jack, never had to worry too much about his daughter. She was tough, always carried a knife that she knew how to handle, and most important, he said, she got along with everybody.
“That’s just who she was,” Alfred told Dateline. “Everyone loved her. And she just got along with everybody.”
Their family has been living in the small community of Toosey Reserve, just west of Williams Lake, since 1989.
So when 33-year-old Sabrina Rosette was tragically killed in the driveway of another community member on June 8, 2019, it shocked and soon divided the once close-knit nation.
“Everybody knows what happened that day,” Liz told Dateline. “But nobody knows exactly what happened, and we still don’t have those details.”
That day in June was supposed to be a joyful day for the family. It was Liz’s birthday. But the day is now forever marked by the tragedy of her sister’s murder.
“I remember seeing her that morning,” Liz said, recalling that Sabrina was driving around with a friend, a man they had grown up with. “She drove by my place, smiling and waving, but she didn’t stop. That was the last time I saw her.”
Liz was in nearby Williams Lake later that day when she got a phone call from their father.
“All I got told was to get home,” she said. “I knew something was wrong.”
Their father, who had been out fishing, hoping to catch some salmon for Liz’s birthday, rushed home empty-handed.
“All day I had the feeling that I should’ve been home,” Alfred told Dateline. “Something didn’t feel right all day.”
The family’s house, which sits on a hill, provides a view of the entire reserve. From there, Alfred could see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles at the home of another community member.
“That’s where my daughter’s life ended,” Alfred said, his voice cracking. “I went down there and they wouldn’t let me see her, but I pushed my way through. They said it was my daughter, but I had to find out for myself.”
According to a press release issued by the Williams Lake RCMP, police responded around 6 p.m. to the driveway of a residence on the Toosey Reserve for a report that a woman had been “severely injured.”
Despite life-saving efforts, she could not be revived and died at the scene. RCMP arrested a local man at the scene, who Liz identified to Dateline as the friend her sister had been driving around with earlier. The man was later released without charges.
No one has been arrested or charged in connection to Sabrina’s death.
At the time, investigations were launched at two possible crime scenes, one at the reserve where Sabrina was found, the other at “Lover’s Leap,” a popular place for people to hang out and have bonfires and party. But details of any evidence obtained from either scene have not been released.
On the one-year anniversary of Sabrina’s murder, the North District Major Crime Unit (NDMCU) issued a plea to the public to come forward with information that could help the investigation.
“This investigation has remained active since the onset,” Sgt. Kevin McIntyre of the NDMCU stated in the release last year. “Our priority is to find the truth of what happened to Sabrina, and one area that we continue to focus on is information from witnesses. I recognize that this is a difficult request in such a close, and possibly divided community, but I ask that everyone join me in empathizing with Sabrina’s family and to call with any information that may help her children, family and community to heal.”
More than two years after Sabrina’s murder, these details released by police are all that the family says they know, and there hasn’t been any new information released since then.
“We don’t know anything other than that it was a knife wound in her rib. We don’t know what side,” Liz said. “We don’t know where the weapon is or if it was ever found.”
Following Sabrina’s death, rumors swirled through the community that it was an accident, that she had fallen on the pocket knife she always carried with her.
“Being First Nations, she was raised and taught how to use a knife and knew how to handle one,” Liz said. “Even if she did fall on the knife - where is it? It would have been in her. Who took it out of her then?”
Liz said she believes the rumors were circulated to draw attention away from Sabrina’s killer. And says the murder has divided their community, tearing it apart.
“It feels like it’s our family against the whole reserve,” Liz said. “Like we’re being pushed into a corner and hushed.”
Toosey Reserve is one of six communities in Tsilqhot’in Nation. There are about 360 band members, but only about half actually live on reserve, Liz told Dateline, explaining how small the community is.
“Everybody grew up knowing everybody,” she said. “And everybody knows and loves my sister. That’s why I don’t understand why someone won’t step up and say something. I know someone out there knows something. It’s time for them to come forward.”
Liz described her sister as a caretaker, and a kind, easygoing person who had an amazing sense of humor and always knew how to make someone’s day better.
“If there was tension in the room, she would always lighten it,” Liz said with a laugh. She added that Sabrina loved to hunt and fish and wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.
“But she could also be a girly girl when she wanted to be,” Liz said. “And she would get all dressed up and she would look so amazing.”
On the one year anniversary of Sabrina’s murder, a headstone was installed at the cemetery at Tl’esqox (Toosey) First Nation. Engraved were the words, “Loved and never forgotten.”
Liz told Dateline that she’s determined to never let her sister be forgotten, as she puts on a brave face every day for the ones Sabrina loves the most - her two sons.
“She loved those boys with everything she had,” Liz said. “Her death has been so hard on them.”
The boys, who now live with their grandfather, Alfred, were 4 and 14 when their mother died.
“It’s been a rough time for all of us,” Alfred said. “But really rough on the boys.”
He told Dateline the family does their best to keep Sabrina’s spirit alive by sharing memories of her with the boys.
Both Alfred and Liz say they are both grateful for the work of the RCMP, but cannot move on or heal without answers and are hoping someone will come forward with information. Alfred said he has spoken with Sgt. McIntyre in the past few weeks, but said there haven’t been any new updates in the case.
“This remains a priority investigation and we remain fully committed to ensure Sabrina’s family and community will get the answers they need as we ensure that the individual(s) responsible is/are held accountable,” Sgt. McIntyre told Dateline this week. “We remain committed to providing an update at the appropriate time.”
He added that the investigation remains active and urges anyone with information to call the department.
As a little more than two years have passed since Sabrina’s murder, her family tells Dateline they want justice, but most of all, they want peace.
“We cannot rest yet because we have no answers,” Alfred said. “We cannot heal yet. Not until we have justice.”
Anyone with information about Sabrina’s case is urged to call the Williams Lake RCMP at 250 392-6211 or Crime Stoppers at 1(800) 222-8477.