‘I’m fighting for you’: Tanya Brooks’ family searches for closure in unsolved murder

Click to play video: 'Memorial walk held Halifax in memory of Tanya Brooks'
Memorial walk held Halifax in memory of Tanya Brooks
WATCH: Wednesday marked the 14th anniversary of the murder of Tanya Jean Brooks. Despite numerous leads, her murder remains unsolved. Halifax police continue to investigate her case, and a march was held in her honour and to remember other missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls – May 10, 2023

Wednesday marked the 14-year anniversary of Tanya Brooks’ murder, whose case remains unsolved.

On Wednesday afternoon, family and supporters gathered for an annual memorial march from the Halifax Regional Police headquarters to the location where Brooks’ body was found to pay tribute and raise awareness towards the unanswered questions surrounding her death.

The body of Tanya Jean Brooks, a 36-year-old Indigenous woman from Millbrook First Nation and mother of five, was found in a basement window well of St. Patrick’s-Alexandra School on Maitland Street in Halifax on the afternoon of May 11, 2009.

Police say they were able to trace her movements until about 9 p.m. on May 10 and are still urging anyone who witnessed anything in the area of the school at that time to reach out.

Vanessa Brooks, Tanya’s sister, made an emotional speech in front of the crowd.

Story continues below advertisement

“With today’s times that we’re living in, ” she said while speaking to dozens from the steps of the police station, “we have to be mindful that whoever stole her life from us is still out there.”

“She mattered, not to just me, to her children, to her sister, to her nieces that she never got to meet, to her grandchildren that she’s never going to meet.”

Brooks said that if Tanya were still alive, she’d be expecting two granddaughters this year. She encouraged the public to keep Tanya’s spirit in the light by leaving their door lights on Wednesday night to “guide her home.”

The body of Mi’kmaq woman Tanya Brooks was discovered nine-years-ago in a basement window well of a now abandoned school. Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

“It is never too late to come forward and the smallest piece of information may be just what is needed to progress the investigation,” read a release from the Halifax Regional Police on Wednesday morning.

Story continues below advertisement

Supporters sang and marched towards the school, while Vanessa Brooks cheered them along from inside a police vehicle that drove adjacent to the crowd. She held up a photo of her sister as she drove past.

Vanessa Brooks holds up a photo of her sister, Tanya, as she drives past supporters.

A special ceremony took place once everyone arrived outside the school, which included a poem delivered by Vanessa Brooks’ granddaughter and an opportunity for people to lay flowers and pay their respects at the site of the incident.

Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.

Get daily National news

Get the day's top news, political, economic, and current affairs headlines, delivered to your inbox once a day.
By providing your email address, you have read and agree to Global News' Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Vanessa Brooks said she stands with her sister but says she’s just one of many families that are dealing with similar circumstances, drawing attention to the other missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada.

Denise John, a victim support navigator at the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre, said no family should experience a loss like the one the Brooks family has experienced.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, 231 calls for action and justice, and when we think about Tanya and think about all our sisters that were stolen, it’s still something that’s a crisis nationally,” she said.

“Our women are still being murdered, our women are still missing, our women are 12 times (more likely) to experience violence, and it’s not stopping,” she continued. “We need to join together in solidarity to bring awareness.”

Denise John holds a photo of Tanya Brooks following the special ceremony outside St. Patrick’s-Alexandra School in Halifax on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked what it meant to be here today after 14 years, Brooks said the feeling is “bittersweet”.

“I had hoped after 14 years we’d be having a different discussion. I had hoped we’d be standing in front of a courthouse,” she continued, as she suggested she’d like to see those who took her sister from her brought to justice.

Story continues below advertisement

“Sadly, that’s not the case. Fourteen years and we’re back at the same place where they decided to leave her.”

She strongly encouraged anyone who has additional details regarding her sister’s murder to reach out to the police or contact her directly.

“We need to be able to have that accountability,” she said. “If you have the information and don’t feel safe, you can message me, I’m not hard to find.”

Brooks said she organizes the march every year so the public doesn’t forget her sister. She says she hopes the increased awareness will lead to somebody who’s “struggling with the guilt” and withholding information to come forward and help them solve the murder.

Story continues below advertisement

Following a few more words with those gathered for the ceremony, Vanessa Brooks had a message for her sister.

“I love you Tanya, and I’m fighting for you,” she said.

“We hear you, we see you, and we’re not forgetting, and I love you. Happy Mother’s Day.”

Click to play video: 'Red dress day 2023: Liberal MP calls for implementation of alert system ahead of MMIWG2S'
Red dress day 2023: Liberal MP calls for implementation of alert system ahead of MMIWG2S

Sponsored content