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

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