He’s a man well-known for his flamboyant and bubbly personality.
And now, Alvin Chiniquay is clinging to life in hospital.
Chiniquay, 40, was badly beaten while on suicide watch in the Calgary Remand Centre Sept. 9.
It’s believed he was arrested for shoplifting just days before the attack.
Sources say he was in a cell with a known violent criminal when the unprovoked attack happened.
His family is too shaken to speak, asking Chiniquay’s long-time lawyer to comment on their behalf.
“The family feels that it’s very important that the public know what has happened to Alvin,” defence lawyer Joan Blumer told Global News. “They don’t know why or how he was targetted in the way he was and that has made them frightened.”
Chiniquay has had a rough life. His mother died when he was just ten years old. From that moment on, his life was never the same. He struggled with addictions and got into a vicious cycle of petty crime to support his habits.
But his family says he was not violent and can’t comprehend why he was attacked.
“The fact of the matter was: he was in government care. He was supposed to be under an ongoing watch because he was suicidal and this is what has happened to him during that time,” Blumer said.
Chiniquay was openly gay. His family said they can’t help but wonder if this was a hate crime.
“They have wondered if it’s because of his lifestyle,” Blumer said. “If there was any consideration for that before he was assaulted or why he was being assaulted or that was any kind of motivation, then certainly that’s another factor that I would say increases the severity of the consequences for whoever it is that perpetrated this.”
Sources have identified Marlon Ledesma as the inmate who was in the cell with Chiniquay when the beating happened.
If Chiniquay dies, Ledesma could be charged with murder.
Police won’t confirm any details about the suspect and will only say the investigation is ongoing.
“Somebody needs to figure out why that happened,” Blumer said. “There needs to be a public inquiry. His family is entitled to know; the public is entitled to know.”
Chiniquay’s family is now faced with some difficult decisions. For now, he remains on life support.
They’ve spent the week at his bedside, holding several traditional native prayer and healing ceremonies.
As the family tries to make sense of this brutal attack, they are trying to remember the good times.
“He was funny…he liked to dress in wacky, colourful clothing,” Blumer said. “He was very artistic with his hair design…liking to go to powwows and liking to go out hiking and being out in the wilderness and the world.”
Alberta Justice won’t comment on the case, but told Global News there will be an internal investigation.