After nearly two decades of trying to find (William) Billy Jay Sharphead, the historical search for the missing Enoch Cree nation man is coming to an end.
“Its been 19 years and it’s been difficult — it’s difficult to spend everyday thinking about it, so we’re trying to heal as well. We’re trying to do something with our lives rather than have this weighing heavy on our hearts,” Billy’s sister Joanne Sharphead said.
Billy was last seen in 2003 when he was 35-years-old.
This weekend, Sharphead’s family, with the help of the Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta are searching an area on Enoch Cree Nation, west of Edmonton, in a final attempt to find him.
“We’ve had searches both large and small, searching all these areas, the cutline, the ski hill, places where he went to camp,” Joanne Sharphead said.
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“Somebody had said way back when, and I can’t remember when but for us to check the pond,” Joanne Sharphead said.
But searching on land with human remains detection dogs and on water after so many years posses challenges.
“It’s extremely difficult. You have all this vegetation that could be covering everything and we’re just hoping that the dogs by training, by luck happen to pick up a scent of something,” Mary-Ann Warren with Search and Rescue Dog Association of Alberta said.
Joanne Sharphead said missing and murdered indigenous men is an issue that needs more attention.
“I’m not trying to take away from the women, of course, but I always say our warriors are important and we should be telling their story,” Sharphead said.
She is sharing the story of her beloved brother as a kind man who loved art, his culture and his family.
“We just keep his memory alive because that’s all we can do at this point,” Sharphead said. “It helps us to cope.”