Thursday, November 3, 2011

RIP: Divas (David Joseph) Boulanger

On this Day in 2004, the body of Divas (David Joseph) Boulanger was discovered by hunters in some brush behind a Trans-Canada Highway rest stop 8 km east of Portage la Prairie, MB.

Boulanger, 28, was born a male but was living as a woman. She was last seen alive on the night of September 28, 2004.

Theodore Raymond Herntier, 41, of Arcola Sask. has been arrested and is awaiting trial.

A Winnipeg Mother calls for the Manitoba Government to change legislation

My name is Shannon Buck. I am the mother of Lauren Chopek. She is a 14 year old Metis girl who struggles with addiction issues and depression. I am seeking the right to access services for my daughter without having to voluntarily place her in the care of Child and Family Services. She has gone from receiving awards for high academic achievement, to dropping out of school, being sexually exploited, charged with criminal offences and running away 19 times, since 2008, the majority of times occurring in 2011.

Lauren is aware of the risks she is taking, but states that the addiction is too overwhelming for her to cope with and it is the addiction that has led her into a life of crime, sexual exploitation, and running away from home. Lauren wants help with her issues, but does not possess the strength at this time to behave in a manner that will keep her safe.

During the last 2.5 years, I have accessed what is available to me as a parent:

  • Manitoba Adolescent Treatment Centre
  • Psychiatric services at the Health Sciences Centre
  • Youth Addiction Stabilization Unit
  • Behavioural Health Foundation
  • AFM Youth Services
  • Mobile Crisis
  • Crisis Stabilization Unit

Unfortunately, these services have not been able to meet her needs. More appropriate programming is available, but only if she is in the care of CFS.

I am uncomfortable with the fact that the Government of Manitoba has structured a system that denies a parent’s right to access resources without becoming dependent upon a system that, quite honestly, is seriously flawed, when it comes to caring for our children.

I do not want to voluntarily place my child in the care of Child and Family Services for the following reasons:

  • 145 children have died while in the care of CFS or shortly after leaving the care of CFS since 2004 (report by Office of the Children’s Advocate, 2008)
  • Many children who are in the care of CFS are not reported missing by their social workers (information received from a former lawyer for CFS), or social workers are not available to provide necessary consent for the Missing Person’s Unit to act in a timely manner.

(Examples: During a meeting with the detective assigned to my daughter’s missing person’s cases, I was informed that the social worker who was dealing with the other girl that had gone missing with her, had not contacted Missing Person’s to consent to a media release - this was 5 days after the girl had gone missing. After she recognized me from a news broadcast, a community member approached me with a story about her niece, who she had run into on the street. The niece told her that she had been on the street for 2 months- the girl had never been reported missing, and the woman was unaware that she was not in her assigned placement until their discussion.)

  • 74% of young girls involved in the sex trade are of Aboriginal descent (which my daughter is) and of that 74%, 98% are currently in the care of CFS. (Sexual Exploitation Statistics for Manitoba)
  • A Sexual Exploitation Investigator had spoken to my daughter several times without my knowledge or permission about issues that I had not yet been informed of. I only became aware of this through my daughter. I received a letter several weeks later from a treatment worker about an incident, which was not shared with me by this worker. My daughter was not in the care of Child and Family Services and my rights as a parent to be informed were violated by this worker and her agency.
  • Because my daughter is a high risk, female adolescent, the chances of her being placed in a hotel room are high, due to the lack of appropriate foster placements ( Office of the Children’s Advocate Report on Emergency Placements for Children in Manitoba’s Child Welfare System, 2009)

One recommendation, made to the Manitoba government, by the office of the Children’s Advocate, in 2006, is that the Government should support families in accessing appropriate medical resources for their children without having to sign a Voluntary placement Agreement. This recommendation has never been implemented by the Government, resulting in the forced “voluntary” involvement with a system that has consistently proven to be more of a detriment to the health and wellbeing of our children and families, then a help.

I am aware of other facts, that suggest that the CFS system and government policy in regards to at risk children and services is seriously flawed, paternalistic and more about the money then the welfare of our children. Some of these facts include:

  • One of the requirements of applying for a Voluntary Placement Agreement, is providing financial information, in order to obtain services from CFS.
  • Many of the programs that are available are funded according to the number of children in care who are involved in the program, thereby creating a need to keep the numbers high in order to access funding
  • All CFS agencies are funded by the Provincial Government, specifically, the Family Services Minister
  • All CFS agencies are funded according to how many children they have in care, thereby creating a need to keep the numbers high in order to access funding
  • There are three times more kids in CFS today than were ever in residential schools. If you want more information please see First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada

As a concerned parent, seeking help for my child, I have taken exactly the same actions to protect her, as CFS would and in some situations, more. The issue arises with the accessibility of more appropriate services. There are other programs available, but are out of reach to me because she is not in the care of CFS and I am unable to afford the cost myself.

All I want is to be able to access resources for my daughter to keep her safe and alive without having to be dependent on this system. I am capable of doing so, I am simply not allowed to.

I am but one of many parents who are struggling with this issue. Due to the historical relationship between the Child Welfare and Aboriginal peoples, personal experiences ,(my own and that of parents I have worked with during my time in the social services sector), and the stigma attached to having a child in the care of CFS, many parents do not see a VPA as a viable option for them. This had led to our children and youth unable to access resources and a high number of at risk youth going without the help they require. The parents I have worked with have come seeking more help for their children, but have come up against a closed door that does not permit them to enter unless they place their children in the care of Child and Family Services.

I am calling on the Government of Manitoba to change legislation in order to remove the systemic barriers that parents face when attempting to access services for their children and to ensure that all families are able to reach resources without forced dependence upon Child and Family Services regardless of race or income.

Not only would a change to the legislation, empower more parents but would also reduce the pressure on an overwhelmed Child Welfare system. If the government would not force parents to enter the system through restricting access to services, the burden would be lifted from the shoulders of social workers and they would better able to conduct the business of protecting children.

It is time that we take a stand to allow parents to be parents and stop the Child and Family Services System from feeding off of the suffering of our families and especially our children. Not only for myself and my situation, but for the other families in this province that are experiencing the same pressure to give over care of their child to this antiquated, colonial and oppressive system.


Shannon Buck

Social Services Provider and Mother

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Charlene Ward: UNSOLVED Homicide

PORTAGE LA PRAIRIE - November 1st marked four years since Charlene Ward, 46, was killed in her Portage La Prairie home. Ward's case remains unsolved, and to date there are no new leads.

In a post on Missing Manitoba Women's wall, Ward's daughter wrote:

"It's heart breaking to see all these missing and murdered woman, I know my mom is gone, but it doesn't make it any less painful. My heart goes out to all the family of missing or murdered women, I truly know how you feel."

Ward's family needs to find out who did this. If you have any information, call the Portage la Prairie Police Department at (204)-857-8767 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

No Stone Unturned: A family remembers a lost mom

It’s been an annual tradition for Patience Bushby for her entire life. The three-year-old daughter of missing Manitoba woman Claudette Osborne has attended rallies, vigils, concerts and memorial walks in remembrance of her mother and other missing and murdered women since she’s been born.

Sunday was no exception. Patience, along with her father Matt Bushby, and Osborne’s other children, four-year-old Iziah and six-year-old Layla were at the No Stone Unturned concert in honour of Osborne and other missing and murdered women.

The fair-haired little girl, who bares a striking resemblance to her mother, wore a shirt with a picture of Osborne’s face underneath the word “missing.” Though she’s never met her mom, Patience knows that the picture on her shirt is of “Mama June,” and she also knows that Mama June is lost.

“We come to keep Claudette’s memory alive and to keep raising awareness on the fact that she is still missing and that this has to stop happening to women,” said Bushby, who along with his other kids, were wearing the same shirt. “She is missed and still very much loved every day.”

Osborne’s entire family was joined by a few hundred other people at Memorial Park across from the Winnipeg Legislature to take in the all day venue of live entertainment and a feast of stew and bannok.

Also on hand for the concert were advocates from Walk 4 Justice, a non-profit group consisting of family members of some of Canada’s missing or murdered women. The group is walking across Canada to raise awareness about the hundreds of unsolved cases of missing and murdered women in Canada.

Bernadette Smith, event organizer and Osborne’s sister, said that putting on the concert was a way for the family to not only remember their sister and daughter, but to also raise awareness about her and the rest of Manitoba’s missing and murdered women.

Osborne was just 21-years-old when she went missing from Winnipeg’s North End in the early morning hours of July 24, 2008. Two weeks before her disappearance, the young mother gave birth to her fourth child, Patience Claudette Bushby.

Two days after their daughter was born, Bushby said that Child and Family Services apprehended the newborn and placed her into foster care until he could manage the resources to care for the infant as a single father. At the time the couple was still together, but Bushby was living with the kids in their home outside the city and Osborne was living in a rooming house in Winnipeg to comply with an order from Child and Family Services.

“All she ever wanted was a family,” Bushby said as he wiped away tears.

After losing custody of her daughter, Bushby said that Osborne was devastated. He describes that time as one of the lowest moments of her life. He said that she coped by turning to crack; a nasty drug habit that she’d kicked and been clean from for almost three years.

The last time Bushby spoke to Osborne, the young mother called to tell him that she was ready to get her life back on track. She told him that she didn’t want to lose him or the kids, and that she was entering rehab.

“She was going to go into treatment on the Monday,” he said.

However, in the early morning hours of Thursday, July 24, 2008, Osborne vanished from Selkirk Avenue and King Street in Winnipeg’s North End. Family and friends of the young mother are pleading that anyone with information about her disappearance contact the Missing Persons Unit at (204)-986-6250, or Winnipeg Crime Stoppers at (204)-786-8477 (TIPS).

“We need closure,” Bushby said. “My kids need closure.”

NOTE: A story I wrote for the Portage Daily Graphic

Monday, August 1, 2011

Missing Portage woman would have been 27-years-old

WINNIPEG - On July 28 Amber McFarland would have celebrated her birthday alongside her identical twin sister Ashley. The Portage woman, who vanished three years ago, on Oct. 18, would have been 27-years-old.

“It’s a tough day for her twin sister and we all just wanted to be there for her,” said Lori McFarland, Amber’s mom, who took the day off from work to be with her family.

Last year on Amber’s birthday, the McFarlands remembered their missing daughter and sister by plastering missing posters of her all over the city. These posters of a smiling Amber in the teal mock-neck shirt have become a fixture in many shop windows and bulletin boards around Portage.

This year, since most of the posters are still intact and in good condition, the McFarlands opted to spend the day together quietly, focusing on Amber’s twin sister Ashley, who has an especially difficult time when this day rolls around.

“Any family that’s lost a loved one, those days are memorable. You remember those birthdays and those special days and that person’s on your mind,” Lori said. “In our case we just don’t know what to think, like where she is or what happened to her.”

Lori said she believes that there are people in Portage who know something about her daughter’s disappearance. Her hope is that those people come forward with the information they have, even if they feel it isn’t important.

“They might not know everything, but they know enough to make a difference — any little detail could make a difference, and if they have some information, they should be coming forward with it,” she said.

“While she’s missing someone is going about their life scot-free, walking freely among us. Walking freely among girls from other families. It should still be very much on everybody’s mind that there is a perpetrator that’s just left to go about his business.”

Lori maintains that Amber’s case will be solved one day, she just hopes that it happens when the family is all around and together to support one another.

Vibrant and caring

“I just hope it’s not before both parents are dead and there’s not just one lone sibling to take the news,” she said. “You know, like many years from now.”

Amber, as her family remembers her, was a vibrant and caring woman with a free spirit, who spoke her mind and always stuck up for the downtrodden. She had a flare for fashion and design, and was dreamy about one day having a career as an interior designer.

At the time of her disappearance, Amber worked at Mark’s Work Wearhouse and was about to start a second part-time job at Tavern United, located in the Canad Inns Hotel on Saskatchewan Avenue.

“She showed a lot of potential, that girl. She had a big heart and a lot of ambition,” Lori said.

Amber was last seen leaving the Cat and the Fiddle Nite Club on Oct. 18, 2008. Surveillance video from the vendor at the Midtown Motor Inn showed Amber buying beer with two men, before reportedly leaving with an ex-boyfriend.

Car found in parking lot

Amber’s car was found in the Canad Inns parking lot, where she had left it the night before. Her purse and cellphone have never been located.

Anybody with any information about Amber McFarland’s disappearance are asked to call the Portage la Prairie RCMP at 204-857-4445 or Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS

“I think she’s just waiting; she’s just waiting for somebody to find her, somebody to come forward. She’s just patiently waiting,” said Lori. “That’s what I feel.”

NOTE: A story I wrote for the Portage Daily Graphic.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

MISSING: Dezeraja Smoljanovich

Dezeraia Smoljanovich, 16, of Grand Marais has been missing since the afternoon of April 28, 2011. Police believe the teen is with Jonathan Clark, 32, Smoljanovich's boyfriend and former teacher.

The RCMP is asking for the public’s help in locating a 16-year-old Grand Marais girl who is believed to have run off with her former high school teacher.

Police said Dezeraja Smoljanovich, 16, has not been seen since the afternoon of April 28 at her home in Grand Marais.

Police said they believe she is with Jonathan Clark, 32, of Ile des Chenes, who is described as Smoljanovich’s recent boyfriend and teacher.

It’s believed the two are heading to Vancouver.

Smoljanovich is described as 5-6, 100 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes with a birthmark on her forehead.

Clark may be using the name "Mike" Clark. He is described as 5-10 to 6-feet tall, has a thin build, weighs 150 lbs, and has brown hair and brown eyes.

Police said the two people might be travelling in a grey, 2005 Honda Accord, with a Manitoba licence plate FJB 398.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the RCMP Selkirk detachment, 204-482-1222, their local police, or Manitoba Crime Stoppers, 1-800-222-8477


Police arrest teacher (05/05/11)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Happy 24th Birthday Sunshine Wood

I got an email from a friend of mine who works for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The subject of the email said: "SUNSHINE WOOD'S BIRTHDAY - April 6, 2011"

When I opened the email, there was a brief account of Wood's case, accompanied by a few photos:

Sunshine Wood known as ‘SUNNY’, is a 16-year-old female who has been missing since Friday, February 20th, 2004. Wood was last seen at approximately 11:45 p.m. in front of the St. Regis Hotel, 285 Smith St. in Winnipeg. She was last seen standing amongst a number of hotel patrons in front of the hotel.

Sunshine came to Winnipeg in September 2003 from God’s River, Manitoba, to attend school and at the time of her disappearance was enrolled at Gordon Bell High School. She is not a chronic runaway and her disappearance is uncharacteristic, however, she is street smart and has a number of friends and acquaintances in the downtown area.

Sunshine is described as aboriginal in appearance, 5’7”, 220 lbs., with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes. She has letters tattooed on all fingers of her left hand. At the time of her disappearance she was wearing a dark coloured ‘Exco’ sweatshirt, blue jeans and black boots.

The Winnipeg Police Service is asking for the public’s assistance in locating Sunshine Wood. The two photos attached were obtained from video footage shortly before her disappearance. Police are looking for information that would identify the male in the picture with Sunshine Wood. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Winnipeg Police Service Long Term Missing Person Task Force at 986-3338 or Crimestoppers at 786-8477.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

In Their Own Words: A Poem for Sandi-Lynn Malcolm

Today, April 3, is Sandi-Lynn Malcolm's 19th birthday. However, the young woman was killed last year, just days before she was to turn 18.

Here is a poem written by Malcolm's cousin Jennifer Spence...

She Would be Nineteen

By Jennifer Spence

She would be nineteen ... would be forging her path and she'd be unstoppable!
There would be time ... time for living carefree and loving every single moment
and her time would be spent entertaining the notion of another day.
Mortality is a difficult game to play it renders us weary when loss is our reality
and the pain cuts deep. Its sensation leaves a lasting scar for which there is little relief.
Somebody wake this family from the clutches of this nightmare!
Shake us free from the depths of this despair....
lurking around every corner
in every heart. Tho not always at the forefront, still ever present waiting ...
for the invitation to spring to life and induce the wail of a sad spirit.
She would be nineteen , today she would be...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Manitoba's $60,000 public awareness campaign for missing and murdered Aboriginal women

Yvonne Raymond and Chase Gouthro did a story for Red River College's weekly news broadcast about Manitoba's $60,000 public awareness campaign for missing and murdered women.

The campaign has seen a number of billboards and bus signs with the pictures of 10 missing or murdered women who's cases have not been solved and a caption saying "What if she was your daughter" scattered throughout the city. The province hopes this blatant campaign will bring people forward with information that could solve these cases.

This was the first time Raymond and Gouthro have ever reported on this issue, and both were heavily affected after meeting Barbara Houle, mother of murdered 17-year-old Manitoba woman, Cherisse Houle.

In her blog, Raymond articulates how difficult it was talk to the grieving mother. She said "interviewing a mother who's daughter was murdered was unbearable." She calls this kind of reporting "one of the most difficult task a journalist can face."

Please watch the video and pass it on.

MISSING: Seianna Leask and Maureen Lowe

As published in the Winnipeg Free Press.

The Winnipeg Police Service is requesting the public’s assistance in locating two young sisters, 10-year-old female, Seianna Leask and 13-year-old Maureen Lowe.
They were last seen on Sunday morning and are believed to be together.

Seianna is described as Aboriginal in appearance, five-foot-three, weighing 110lbs. She has long straight black hair and brown eyes and was last seen wearing low-rise sweatpants. Maureen is described as Aboriginal, five-foot-three, 140lbs, black medium-length hair, brown eyes.

Anyone with information regarding their whereabouts is asked to contact the Winnipeg Police Service 986-6222 or the Missing Persons Unit at 986-6250.

Friday, March 11, 2011

HOT 103 reposts Missing Woman Montage

Thanks to HOT 103's Chrissy Troy for reposting my video montage on her blog. (Click here to read Troy's blog)

So far 13 of my Facebook friends have reposted the video to their walls, as well as an unknown number of other Facebook users who have messaged me to ask or tell me that they too would repost the video. Thank you to everyone who has helped to make the video go viral, I really appreciate it.

Also, thank you so much to Donald Benham for forwarding a link to the video to all of his email contacts. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What's in a name...

Claudette Osborne-Tyo and Patience, July 10, 2008. Two weeks before Osborne-Tyo went missing

Claudette Osborne-Tyo went missing on July 24, 2008, just two weeks after giving birth to a baby girl named Patience Claudette Bushby on July 10. The eight pound baby girl was Osborne-Tyo's fourth child, and second child with her fiance Matt Bushby.

"She wanted lots of kids," Bushby said. "She loved being a mom."

Sadly, Osborne-Tyo's dream of being a mom to her new baby daughter and her other children, Iziah, Layla and Dayton was cut short when she vanished in the early hours of July 24.

L-R: Patience, Layla and Iziah 2010

For two of the older children, Iziah and Layla, memories of "Mama June" as they call her, are evident. Iziah, now four, says he wants to be a helicopter pilot when he grows up so that he can fly over the bushes in Manitoba to look for his mom, and Layla, five, believes that her mother will come home if the family can get a big enough Christmas tree at Christmas time.

For Patience, however, there are no memories. The little girl, now almost three, has no recollection of her mother since she was only two weeks old when her Osborne-Tyo went missing. Instead, Patience, who Bushby says is exactly like Osborne-Tyo in both personality and appearance, only knows her mom through pictures and stories.

Aside from the stories and pictures, Patience has a special and unique connection to her mother that nobody else has, and that is her name: Patience Claudette.

Bushby says that when their daughter was born at around 4:00 p.m. on the afternoon of July 10, 2008, both he and Osborne-Tyo were shocked to find out that their new little bundle was a girl.

"We had an ultrasound done, and we were told that we were having another boy," explained Bushby, adding that he and Osborne-Tyo had only picked out a boys name.

Neither was prepared for the arrival of a little girl.

Bushby recalls Osborne-Tyo's absolute panic for not having a name picked out. He said that she was beside herself, trying to think of names for their daughter.

"She was so impatient, she wanted to have a name for the baby before her family came to visit," said Bushby with a smile. "She was getting all worked up and I said, like I always did, 'Patience Claudette.' and we both just stopped and kind of looked at each other."

And just like that, the little girl was named.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Seianna Leask: Missing

Seianna Leask, a 10-year-old girl from Winnipeg, has been missing since February 24, 2011.

Police say the little girl was last seen in Winnipeg's North End near Jarvis Ave. and Salter St. She was wearing a black winter jacket with white stripes on the sleeves, a black hoodie, black tight pants, a white toque and white Converse runners.

Leask is described as aboriginal, five feet tall and weighing 100 pounds. She has shoulder length dark hair and brown eyes.

According to an article in the Winnipeg Free Press, Police say they are not treating Leask's disappearance as an abduction, but they say they are concerned about her whereabouts.

Anybody with information about Leask is asked to call the Winnipeg Police Missing Persons Unit at (204)-986-6250

UPDATE: Leask was safely located by police on March 21.

The REDress Project for Missing and Murdered Women

The REDress Project is an installation by artist Jaime Black that gathers and displays red dresses to mark the absence of over 600 missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada.

Institute for Women and Gender Studies (IWGS) is proud to partner with Jaime on the campus-wide installation of the REDress Project will take place during International Women's Week, from March 7-12, 2011.

Along with the installation of over 100 dresses in 9 locations across the campus, w...e will be coordinating tours of the installation, providing educational materials, supporting a movie screening, as well as hosting a panel of speakers. It is our intention to provide an environment for students, staff, faculty and the general public to learn through engagement with the art, and to provide opportunities for conversation about the serious impact of this gendered and racialized violence on all of the peoples of Canada.

After months of planning and preparation, and over one hundred generous donations of REDdresses from the community we are proud to be able to share the events happening with everyone (and we're happy to keep accepting RED dresses throughout the installation - if received before March 4th, they will be hung at UW!)

Join us for a week of FREE events open to all during the installation!

Tuesday March 8 - 'Cinema Politica' screening of the film Finding Dawn at 7:30 pm in Eckhardt-Grammate Hall , 3rd floor, UW campus (free childcare, snacks and bus tickets available). This event, and the discussion to follow will be hosted by Lisa Michell of the Women's Memorial March of MB.

IWGS, along with Ka Ni Kanichihk's Aboriginal Women Reclaiming Our Power program (supported by Status of Women and Heritage Canada), are honoured to support the UWSA, UWSA Womyn's Centre and Gallery 1C03 in the screening of this important film. There will be guides on hand at all UW entrances to help folks find the movie screening location.

Wednesday March 9th - Discussion Panel with REDress artist Jaime Black, filmmaker & activist Tina Keeper, and Lisa Forbes of the Stop Violence Against Aboriginal Women Action Group! 12:30 pm in Convocation Hall - 2nd floor of Wesley Hall (the Castle) at 515 Portage Ave. Accessible venue through the Bryce Hall skywalk.

REDress Installation Tours- All tours start at escalators, 1st floor Centennial Hall at UW.

* March 7 - 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm
* March 8 - 7 pm
* March 9 - 10 am and 4 pm
* March 10 - 12:30 and 4 pm
* March 11 - 12:30 and 5:30 pm
* March 12 - 2:30 pm

For more information about REDress events please contact Kim Hunter at or 204.786.9921 OR Jaime Black (Artist + creator of the REDress project)

Please click here to visit the REDress Project’s Facebook page.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sandi-Lynn Malcolm

Family Photo of Sandi-Lynn Malcolm courtesy of Facebook

She kept it a secret for months, lying and making excuses about the many bruises on her body. However, Sandi-Lynn Malcolm's parents knew that something was wrong and they kept asking the 17-year-old to tell them who was hurting her. The teen refused to confirm their suspicion that her new boyfriend of only a few months was abusing her, until one day her step-father Percy Mousseau pulled her aside and she finally told her secret.

"He'd hit her in places we couldn't see," alleges Malcolm's mother, Glenda Haufner, adding that once Malcolm told them of the abuse, she took precautions to keep her second oldest daughter out of harms way.

"Towards the last couple of months (of the relationship) she just wanted to be friends with him," Haufner said.

However, Malcolm's intent to remain friends with the her ex would have fatal consequences for the teen. In the early hours of February 27, 2010 the young woman from the Ebb and Flow First Nation, approximately 262 kilometres north of Winnipeg, was stabbed to death at a residence on the reserve.

"I'm so sad every day," said a tearful Haufner, clutching a framed photo of her daughter. "I wasn't done loving her yet. He took her away from me."

The family marked the one year anniversary of Malcolm's death by holding a vigil on the steps of the Legislature. They drove nearly three hours into the city to not only make sure that Malcolm's case will not be forgotten, but to also shed light on domestic violence.

"For all the young ones who are in domestic violence, get out as soon as you can because you don't have a second chance," warned Malcolm's father, Kingsley Malcolm in his address to supporters and onlookers.

Supporters held signs and photos of the young woman as they braved the bitter cold. Family members lit candles and took turns speaking and sharing stories about the energetic and loving young woman.

"She was a very loving person, always joking around," said the grieving father.

The vigil was organized by Malcolm's cousin, Lisa Spence, who also organized a vigil for the girl last march.

"At the time of Sandi's death the Olympics were closing, so there was not much coverage about her. We needed to bring it to the publics attention," she said. "I felt I needed to do this so we could honour her and bring people together to support one another."

Ronald Joseph Racette Jr. of Ebb and Flow First ation has been charged with second degree murder, aggravated assault, and assault causing bodily harm. He is slated to go on trial in Dauphin next November.

Malcolm is survived by her mother and step-father, Glenda Haufner and Percy Mousseau, as well as her father Kingsley Malcolm. She is survived by two sisters, Brandi and Carrie, and a younger brother Cody.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Missing Grandma Found Dead

The body of an elderly woman who was reported missing by her family on February 23, has been found.

Winnipeg police confirmed that the body of 73-year-old Elizabeth Lafantaisie was found in the trunk of her own car, a dark green 2006 Grand Prix, on Thursday, February 24.

Lafantaisie was last seen in the Royalwood area on February 18, however her disappearance went unnoticed for a few days, until somebody found her purse and turned it into police on February 21.

Police have no suspects at this time, however they are asking for anybody who may have seen someone acting suspicious and washing a green car at a coin operated car wash on February 18 to come forward with information.

For more information, click here to read Tamera King's article for the Winnipeg Sun.

Photo: Winnipeg Sun

A 25-year-old Winnipeg man has been charged in the first degree murder of Elizabeth Lafantaisie. Thomas Anthony Joseph Brine of Winnipeg was arrested shortly before 8:00 p.m. on February 28 in the River East area.

Brine is also charged with two counts of possession of goods obtained by crime, three counts of assault causing bodily harm, and assault as a result of two outstanding warrants.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunshine April Hilda Wood

It's been exactly seven years and one day since 16-year-old Sunshine Wood vanished on February 20, 2004 after leaving the St. Regis Hotel at 285 Smith Street in downtown Winnipeg.

The teen moved to Winnipeg from God's River First Nation to attend Gordon Bell High School six months before she disappeared.

Since approximately 11:45 pm on February 20, 2004 there have been no traces of Wood. She was last seen wearing a dark coloured hoodie with the "EXCO" logo on the front, blue jeans and black boots. She is described as Aboriginal, with straight long dark hair and brown eyes. She stands five foot seven inches tall and weighs 220 pounds. Wood has the word "Destiny" with a heart tattooed on her left hand

Today Wood would be 23-years old.

First Photo Courtesy of:

Aka: Sunny
Date of birth: April 6, 1987
Sex: Female
Height: 5'7'
Weight: 220lbs
Hair: Straight Brown hair
Eyes: Brown
Race: Aboriginal
Distinguishing characteristics: tattoo on all fingers on her left hand

Second Photo courtesy of:

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cherisse Houle's mother speaks out

More than 300 people attended the Women's Memorial March on Monday, February 14, to honour and remember the hundreds of women who have gone missing or been murdered in Canada.

The crowd, holding signs and banners, and wearing cardboard butterflies with pictures and names of victims, took to the streets to bring awareness about the tragic issue of missing and murdered women. Currently in Manitoba, there are more than 70 unsolved cases of missing women. Most of them are Aboriginal.

Barbara Houle, mother of slain teenager Cherisse Houle, spoke out about her daughter.

The 17-year-old mother of a young son was found face down in a creek in July, 2009. Her homicide is still unsolved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Vigil for Claudette Osborne-Tyo

On January 23 family and friends of Claudette Osborne-Tyo gathered in Winnipeg's north end to pay tribute to the missing woman.

It's been two-and-a-half years since the mother of four vanished from Selkirk Avenue and King Street in the early morning hours of July 23, 2008. Her family is still hopeful that they will find answers about her whereabouts and her disappearance.

"We won't give up," said Osborne-Tyo's sister, Bernadette Smith, to the small group of supporters and media huddled outside of a Selkirk Avenue Church.

Fat snowflakes fell as Osborne-Tyo's mother prayed for her lost daughter and the nearly 80 other Manitoba women who have disappeared. The grief-stricken woman wept as she described her need to hear her daughter utter the words 'mom, I love you' once again.

Osborne-Tyo's fiance, Matt Bushby brought their young son Iziah, 4, to the vigil. The wide-eyed little boy stayed close to his father as supporters embraced one another and local media clamoured to get shots of the emotional moments.

Bushby said it was important for his children to pay tribute to their mother so that they don't forget her. He said their children, Layla, Iziah and Patience still ask about Osborne-Tyo every day, and every day he tells them how much she loved them and how she would be with them if she could.

Claudette Osborne-Tyo has been missing since July 23, 2008. Anybody with information about her disappearance or whereabouts are asked to call the Winnipeg Police Missing Persons Unit at (204)-986-6250.