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Missing loved ones’ families want answers

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They’re someone’s daughter, sister, mother, aunt, grandmother, niece and friend. The rate of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and two-spirited (MMIWG2S) is climbing at an alarming rate. Sadly many of the cases are going unreported or do not gain enough media coverage to be accurately counted.
Four missing Indigenous women, who were formerly from the Valley area, still haven’t been found to date. Their loved ones are left with no answers and the RCMP has no new leads. 
Two of the missing women’s families declined to participate in this story.
There are a lot of negative connotations on how and why Indigenous women are going missing, but before one can judge, it’s important to acknowledge they’re all human beings and have a story to tell that’s worth being heard. Despite the fact that the media has recently started focusing on the issue, it has been going on long before anyone has publicly talked about it.
“I think it’s really important to establish is that this has been ongoing since the advent of colonization,” explained Manitoba NDP St. John’s MLA and MMIWG2S advocate Nahanni Fontaine.
“MMIWG2S families have been trying to bring attention to the issue for well over 40 years.
If you look across Canada, some of the earliest files reported to the police, actually come along what is known as the Highway of Tears in British Columbia. There are women who have gone missing along the
Highway of Tears and their families have filed these reports as far back as in 1952.”
There is a strained relationship between the families of MMIWG2S and the police. Many families feel that their concerns are not being taken seriously, they’re not being listened to and there isn’t enough being
done to find out what happened.
“With the families, I’ve worked with all across Canada, there have been identical stories repeated in respect of loved ones going to policing institutions to file a missing report or trying to get information,”
said Fontaine.
“Police across the board have been dismissive and under minding the whole investigation process,  because they didn’t believe families initially. So if you were to ask families about when they reported their
loved one missing, the police would respond with comments about them ‘just being on a drunk and she will be back’ or ‘she doesn’t want to be found’. Despite families knowing their loved one would never do that or up and leave their kids. There’s always a repetitive excuse given by policing agencies as to why it’s not a pressing and urgent matter.
“Overall families of MMIWG2S have been met with disbelief and disregard because it’s just another Indigenous woman or person who has gone missing. Many times over the years I have said if it were a
young Caucasian female who went missing, the response would always be much different and it has been.”
One of the most prominent cases of MMIWG2S is the Tina Fontaine file. Just last month earmarked three
years since the case was acquitted, leaving no justice for Tina Fontaine and no answers for her family that she left behind. 
“It’s really important to understand why Indigenous women and girls leave their communities or the reserve,” noted Fontaine. “Our people are encouraged to leave our reserves due to the lack of jobs, education and opportunities; followed by lack of infrastructure, running water and poor road conditions.
There is a big push to leave the reserve to access better healthcare, schools, employment and on a variety of other levels because the notion is that urban centres have everything one needs and reserves
don’t.
“So imagine being a young Indigenous person coming to the city, not knowing the dangers and culture of urban life.
Winnipeg has already been deemed as ground zero for MMIWG2S cases, so if one comes to a city where there are predators everywhere waiting to prey on vulnerable targets, it’s going to happen.
“One story that comes to my mind that clearly explains this, is one about a young girl who was just 10 years old,” added Fontaine. “She would go to the 7/11 on Ellice and Sargeant to get a Slurpee.
She met a man named Richard, who was in his car just waiting. He struck up a conversation with her that then formed into a relationship where he began to rape and sexually exploited her at 10 years old. This young girl was innocently going to the store, just like any young person has the right to do, and ends up in the clutches of this predator, who I ultimately believe contributed to her murder. There’s no shortage
of predators who are looking to prey upon Indigenous girls and women in Winnipeg.
I’ve heard and seen absolutely horrendous and unimaginable things when it comes to the violations of young Indigenous girls and women.”
Last month was the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Lorlene Bone from Wuskwi Sipihk Cree Nation (WSCN), who was last seen visiting friends on Sapotaweyak Cree Nation (SCN). Her mother,
Evelyn Chartrand, inconsolably looks for answers or clues to her whereabouts, thinks of her often and fondly remembers her.
“I keep all the pictures I have of Lorlene on my tablet and I look at them often,” said Chartrand. “As a little girl, Lorlene loved to go pick blueberries and spend time with friends and family. As she grew up, she became a social butterfly, spending time with her friends and driving around. “She was a good mother and looked after her kids very well. She treated people equally and was always close with her family.
Lorlene was such a jolly person to be around and liked to visit with people often. My daughter was a good person and didn’t deserve what has happened to her.”
According to RCMP files, Lorlene Bone was 31 years old when she went missing. Her last known contact was when she called her mother from SCN on Feb. 29, 2016.
The investigation is still ongoing and Lorlene’s disappearance is being treated as a missing person case.
“To protect the integrity of the investigation, I cannot provide specifics as to what we have done with regards to the investigation,” said RCMP Media Relations spokesperson Tara Seel. “We have followed
leads and continue to do so. We continue to ask anyone with information regarding Lorlene to contact Swan River RCMP at 204·734·4686." There have been countless hours searching wooded areas around SCN, but Chartrand said the last place Lorlene was seen is known as Beardy’s Point.
“Soon after she went missing, we conducted a search with a group of volunteers down Hwy 10,” explained Chartrand.
“It took a lot of time because there were some areas where there was a lot of water and rushes, so we needed a boat to go in there and unfortunately, we didn’t have access to one.” 
Chartrand refuses to give up hope that she will be able to get answers, closure and bring Lorlene home. She does everything she can to keep her memory alive. “To keep her memory alive, I have a red dress
hanging outside on a tree in front of my trailer in Swan River,” said Chartrand. “Her pictures are also hanging beside it inside plastic sleeves.
There is a sign on Hwy 10 that says ‘Come Home Lorlene’ spelled out with blue rocks on the ground and every summer I hang a red dress there as well. “When I’ve gone to SCN to visit my niece, I still ask around for information.
In the spring and summer, some of the men from SCN have been going around on their quads searching
for her, but they can’t right now due to the winter conditions. I just want to know where she is and what happened. I am hoping someone will come forward with any information and help to bring my baby girl
home. This has been very hard on me. On Jan. 18 was her birthday and I spent two days crying non-stop because of the pain I feel.” “Every time I go to SCN, it’s just like my heart falls and I feel so sad when I go there,” concluded Chartrand. “I know she’s there someplace because I can feel it as soon as I drive into the community.”
Lorlene has four children who are wondering what happened to their mother. Also just recently, she became a grandmother; an experience she has never received the chance to have or know about.
Chartrand feels blessed to have her other children checking up on her frequently, but still longs for closure in Lorlene’s disappearance. She hopes to raise fundsto put up a bulletin board on SCN right by a
bridge where she went missing. Chartrand’s next focus is to reach out to the Bear Clan Patrol, to see if a search can be organized this coming summer.
Lorlene is approximately 5’5” tall and 155 pounds with brown eyes and black hair. However, she was known to dye her hair in different colours, including red or blonde. Anyone with any information about
Lorlene’s disappearance, the family and RCMP urge you to come forward to help bring her home.
“If you think you know anything, no matter how big or how small, contact investigators,” added Seal. “You never know if that one small piece of information you have is the last piece of the puzzle  investigators need to put it all together. Please contact police immediately if you have any information
about Lorlene.” 
Cynthia Audy grew up on Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation (WSFN) before moving out of the community and heading to Winnipeg. She was 27 years old when the mother of two disappeared from the north end of Winnipeg in 2004. Her younger sister, Sabrina Flett, who described their relationship as being close, caring and very loving, affectionately remembers Cynthia. “She was very similar to me as a child,” said Flett. “She was happy, outgoing, and loved to joke a lot. We were inseparable as children. Growing up, we were always close and did things like singing, chores and playing together. We helped my kookum raise other children on the reserve. “My kookum would always have us kids outside playing games and
doing races for fun. She also taught Cynthia and me how to jig, so we would do that together as well. We grew up living a hard life, where there wasn’t much to be had, but we made the best of it. We also faced a lot of challenges going to school in Birch River back in those days, but we stuck up for each other and despite that we still enjoyed school. Unfortunately, over time, Cynthia dropped out.” Cynthia and Sabrina
went their separate ways shortly after, when Cynthia left the Valley area and headed to Winnipeg. Cynthia was in a relationship and was a mother of two children when she went missing.
She was living in a townhouse on Jarvis Avenue and one of her sisters had come to visit. It was after midnight on Oct. 24, 2004, when Cynthia left her townhouse to go to a nearby vendor. She caught a ride from someone in a navy blue and grey Chevrolet pickup truck near the corner of Selkirk Avenue and Andrews Street and was never seen again.
From the early onset of Cynthia’s disappearance, there was a discrepancy in the timeline of when the family determined she went missing and to what the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) announced. WPS
announced that the last time Cynthia was seen was four days later on Oct. 28, 2004, but many family members stated that was incorrect. “Even when she left and we were both in different communities, she
always kept in touch,” said Flett. “We wrote letters to each other and put forth every effort to keep connected. One time I had surgery in Winnipeg and had to stay and my aunt’s place. Cynthia made sure she came and brought me to her house, where she fed and took care of me until I was well enough again.
This was the last time I ever saw her. “Regardless of wherever she was, she always conversed with family. As soon as I didn’t hear anything from her, and she knew my number, I knew something was
wrong. That’s when my other half-sister told me that Cynthia got into a vehicle and has been missing since. This is so upsetting because we always communicated and had a close bond. 
“Moving forward was hard,” explained Flett. “I would go to the city, look around and ask questions. Now it’s 18 years later, I go to these MMIWG2S gatherings and all I want more than anything are answers. I
just want answers. One of my closest family members, with whom I share a powerful bond with, is gone and I don’t know where she is. To live with this for years is haunting. I wonder and think about her every
single day. What it would be like to have her here now, to meet my kids and see how her children have grown up.”
Cynthia had short brown hair, brown eyes, a small heart tattoo near her right eye and a five inch long scar on her right cheek. She was 5’7” tall and weighed approximately 160 pounds. Cynthia was last seen
wearing a black blazer, blue jeans, black Fila runners, gold-linked watch and carrying a blue denim purse.
Her more prominently visible tattoos were the words “Pray for me” on her left ankle; her name on her right hand; “Steven” on her right wrist; a heart with the names “Amber” and “Nathan” on her left hand; a heart on her left wrist.
Sadly there are many cases like Lorlene’s and Cynthia’s and many families left behind searching for closure. A special police unit was dedicated to looking for MMIWG2S in Winnipeg, known as Project Devote. Last year, the WPS pulled out of Project Devote and claimed to be creating a new community–
based model for investigating MMIWG2S.
However, when the Star and Times reached out numerous times to the WPS to comment on this new model and Cynthia’s case, they failed to respond. 
If anyone has any information on Lorlene Bone or Cynthia Audy, please contact your nearest detachment and help bring closure to their families.