Emily Osmond’s family still wonders what happened 13 years after her disappearance

Click to play video 'The search for Emily Osmond by the LaPlante family' The search for Emily Osmond by the LaPlante family
WATCH: Myrna LaPlante describes the searches they family undertook to find Emily Osmond after she went missing in September 2017 – Sep 19, 2020

As one chapter closes for Myrna LaPlante, another one remains open.

LaPlante had spent nearly four years searching for her missing aunt, Emily Osmond, when her nephew, Cody Wolfe, went missing in April 2011.

His remains were found on a small island on the Muskowekwan First Nation this past May.

Read more: Remains of Saskatchewan teen Cody Wolfe, missing for 9 years, found: family

LaPlante, Wolfe’s aunt, said it wasn’t the outcome they were hoping for, but is thankful it has come to an end.

“We were saddened. And I think there was a certain amount of relief that he was located,” she said.

“As his sister, Amber Wolfe, eloquently put it on Facebook, it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted.”

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LaPlante said she can now return to searching for her missing aunt.

According to RCMP, Emily Osmond was reported missing on Sept. 20, 2007, from her small acreage on the northern edge of Kawacatoose First Nation near Raymore.

Osmond, who was 78 at the time, required a cane to walk, and police said her vehicle, personal belongings and medication were left at her home.

LaPlante recalled her reaction upon hearing her aunt was missing.

“You’re in denial. I mean, how is this possible? This can’t be happening to us,” she said.

“She’s got to be there somewhere. She can’t be too far away. She can’t walk very far. She can’t drive very far. She’s got to be there in close proximity to her home.”

Click to play video 'Myrna LaPlante reacts to her aunt Emily Osmond going missing' Myrna LaPlante reacts to her aunt Emily Osmond going missing
Myrna LaPlante reacts to her aunt Emily Osmond going missing – Sep 19, 2020

Sgt. Donna Zawislak with the RCMP historical case unit calls Osmond’s disappearance unusual.

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“(She) was living alone in an isolated, wooded area with no power or running water.  She rarely left home and lived a reclusive lifestyle,” Zawislak said.

“She had a medical history of high blood pressure and severe rheumatoid arthritis.  She was not depressed, no history of suicidal attempts and no history of any mental disorders.”

Zawislak said extensive searches of the area took place and Osmond should have been located if there were medical reasons for her disappearance.

“There are pieces of the puzzle that are missing, just as Emily is,” she said.

“Once she is located, it may provide investigators some insight into what may have happened.”

Click to play video 'Interactions between the LaPlante family and the RCMP during the search for Emily Osmond' Interactions between the LaPlante family and the RCMP during the search for Emily Osmond
Interactions between the LaPlante family and the RCMP during the search for Emily Osmond – Sep 19, 2020

Once the RCMP completed their initial search in 2007, it was left up to the family to continue looking for Osmond.

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“It was a huge learning situation, it was really emotional, it was very frantic,” LaPlante recalls.

“I remember our people out there, they would go on their quads, they would go on their horses, they would be driving around. Our cousin, Francis LaPlante, he walked the back of that area for miles and for days and he just never gave up that entire fall.

“We had to learn very quickly how to put a search together.”

LaPlante said those lessons were applied to the search for Wolfe.

“We have to look after the family, we have to look after our searchers, we have to coordinate, we have to communicate, we have to deal with the media, we have to deal with so many things that are involved when a person suddenly goes missing.”

In all the years Osmond has been missing, LaPlante never forgot about her aunt.

She still remembers her fondly from her childhood as being a larger-than-life person who lived in Whitehorse.

“I remember her beauty, her laugh, her just wanting to be around the relatives that were in our area,” Laplante recalled of her aunt.

“I remember her sending clothes to us and I remember her sending Christmas gifts and books. She said she was very much wanting us to read and to learn and I guess in a way to be successful as schoolkids.”

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“She’s just very worldly; I remember having that sense about her.”

During the years they searched for Wolfe, LaPlante said they continued to raise awareness of Osmond’s disappearance even though they weren’t actively searching for her.

“We still continued, over the years, to create the awareness… whenever the opportunity arose. The Oct. 4 at Sisters in Spirit vigils, we would make sure that her name was there,” she said.

“In that way, we still continued to raise awareness, although physically searching, we hadn’t done any more of that.”

Read more: Hundreds remember missing and murdered Indigenous women at Sisters in Spirit Vigil

Osmond’s disappearance was highlighted in November 2017 when the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls national inquiry came to Saskatoon.

“It was a relief to finally be able to have the government announce that, yes, there is going to be an inquiry and then proceed with it and be able to participate in that inquiry and telling the story of our aunt to Canada,” LaPlante said.

She said Carolyn Bennett, the minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, has committed to the development of a national action plan to address the recommendations in the MMIGW report.

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“I know that they (the government) are engaging with a variety of different organizations and groups across Canada, talking to them about the different ways of responding,” LaPlante said.

“So I know everybody’s waiting to see. I know that COVID-19 has impacted greatly on everything and we know that that’s also impacted on the development and delivery and starting some response to the calls for justice.”

Click to play video 'Family of elderly Sask. woman missing for over 10 years testifies at MMIWG inquiry' Family of elderly Sask. woman missing for over 10 years testifies at MMIWG inquiry
Family of elderly Sask. woman missing for over 10 years testifies at MMIWG inquiry – Nov 22, 2017

Bennett’s office said delivering the national action plan remains a priority.

“Although the realities of living in a time of pandemic has changed the manner by which partners are engaging on a national action plan at this time, we are employing innovative ways to continue the work of co-developing a national action plan staying physically isolated. This important work is ongoing,” said Emily Williams, Bennet’s press secretary.

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“We are ensuring that we get this right for the survivors, families and loved ones, to honour the spirits and memories of those lost, and to protect future generations. We are focused on that work.”

Read more: MMIWG inquiry continues in Saskatoon with more personal and painful testimony

In the meantime, LaPlante said the search for her missing aunt will continue down the road.

“I think we’re kind of coming to terms with Cody being located and a funeral and just taking a bit of time,” she said, adding they have to be mindful of the current COVID-19 restrictions.

“I have in my own head some of the things that we might want to do, but, we really need to start some discussions.

“And I’m hoping that we can do that sooner and maybe take the winter and do some planning as a family.”

Emily Osmond is one of 133 people listed as missing by the Saskatchewan Association of Police Chiefs as of Sept. 9.

Zawislak said historical missing person cases remain active until the person is located.

“Every investigation has steps that are completed which include obtaining and analyzing information, forming grounds to believe what happened and then the arrest and charging of a suspect,” Zawislak said.

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“For different reasons, unique to each case, an investigation may stall. This could be due to lack of evidence, witnesses or numerous other reasons.”

At that point, Zawislak said the file is turned over to the cold case/historical case units.

“The investigators will attempt to locate new witnesses, re-examine or identify new evidence and assessment of any suspects.”

Zawislak said a number of factors go into their cold case investigations.

“This includes time, the amount of evidence obtained in the initial investigation, changes in technology in order to identify new evidence. Some of these factors can and can’t be controlled by investigators.

“Then depending on what evidence is located, the file may be identified as not being criminal in nature or will then revert to the investigative steps necessary to identify, arrest and charge a suspect.”

Anyone with information regarding Osmond’s disappearance or any other historical missing person case is asked to contact RCMP at 639-625-4111, toll-free at 1-833-502-6861 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.