For 10 years Myrna LaPlante has searched for her 78-year-old auntie Emily and on Wednesday described the pain of her loss at the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG).
LaPlante said Sept. 20, 2007, was like any other until she received the earth shattering news.
READ MORE: MMIWG inquiry hearings start in Saskatoon
“One of my family members said auntie Emily is missing. I said what do you mean auntie Emily is missing? She can’t be too far away.”
The last time anyone saw Emily Osmond was on Sept. 9, 2007, before she disappeared without a trace from her Raymore area home.
Although ferociously independent, Osmond required a cane to walk – the exact one that was left inside her home when the family began to form a search party.
To this day they believe there was foul play involved and the case remains with the RCMP historical case unit.
LaPlante said the family’s suffering didn’t end there. On April 29, 2011, her nephew Cody Ridge Wolfe, 17, went missing from Lestock, Sask. His last known whereabouts was at a slough north of town and six years later his case remains unsolved as well.
“I’m pleading to the people out there that may have information to please step forward and help us.”
Their story is heartbreaking and among hundreds being heard across the country.
In Saskatoon alone, 29 people have testified in 10 proceedings about 13 lost loved ones. There have been 11 statement gathering sessions with a dozen statements taken and three walk-ins for statement gathering.
Families crusading for change by sharing their stories despite problems that have plagued the inquiry including calls for an entire reset.
“We intend to move forward, we can move forward and we will move forward in a good way,” said Marion Buller, chief commissioner of the MMIWG inquiry.
Saskatoon is the only stop in Saskatchewan scheduled for community hearings and there have been concerns raised that some families will not make it in time to tell their truth before it’s set to conclude on Thursday, after they just found out about it late last week.
Officials say if the need is great enough they will send statement gatherers into communities so all families will be heard.
One of those gatherers is Frank Hope. He’s taken dozens of statements so far and says it’s an honour to do the work with families willing to share the pain.
“People are all at different areas of their healing and most people are coping the best way that they can.”
In some cases he says families or individuals have never told their story and walk out from the private session often with a little less anguish in their eyes.
For LaPlante the process has helped with her healing.
“It’s emotional, we know that Canada is watching and for myself – I feel an immense sense of relief.”
She says this inquiry is only one part of her continuing journey that will not be over until her loved ones are finally found.