Indigenous

'Just pray and ask for strength': Alberta man to tell MMIWG hearings about murdered sister

Paul Tuccaro and his wife Judy hope their testimony will lead to justice for his sister, Amber Tuccaro

Paul Tuccaro

Paul Tuccaro will testify at the MMIWG inquiry in Edmonton this week. (Brandi Morin/CBC)

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Paul Tuccaro and his wife, Judy Cardinal travelled hundreds of kilometres from their home in Fort Chipewyan, Alta., on Monday to tell their story at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry in Edmonton today.

Paul's brother and Judy's sister-in-law, Amber Tuccaro, was a 20-year-old mother from the Mikisew Cree First Nation in Alberta when she vanished in the summer of 2010, after getting into an unknown man's vehicle in Nisku, near Edmonton. She was staying in the area for a few days after arriving from Fort McMurray with her infant son and a female friend.

It didn't sink in that he was coming to the inquiry to talk about his sister's death until his flight got into Edmonton, said Tuccaro, adding dealing with all the ins and outs of the ongoing investigation is a bit of a blur.

"It's tough," he said. "I take it as it comes. Just pray and ask for strength."

While it's been five years since Amber's remains were found in a farmer's field outside of Leduc, Alta., it still hasn't sunk in that she's gone, he said.

"We never have closure because there's so many unanswered questions... It's hard. I don't allow myself to feel anything."

Amber Tuccaro

Amber Tuccaro went missing in 2010. Her body was found two years later in a farmer's field near Leduc, Alta.

After testifying, 'then what?'

Tuccaro said he feels frustrated with the inquiry's "unorganized" process so far. Last September Tuccaro registered to attend the hearings along with his mother, Vivian Tuccaro, and other family members. Somehow his mother's application was lost and the costs for her to fly from Fort Chip to Edmonton were never approved, he said.

"My mom is pretty upset. I feel kind of alone. It's just me and my spouse here."

He also worries about the lack of aftercare offered.

"After it's done, then what? We're going to go back to our homes — we're talking about all these feelings it will bring on and there's no supports... But I think this is one of the last times when an opportunity like this is going to be here to say what you want."

Son growing up

Amber's son, Jacob, is now eight and lives with his grandmother, Vivian. Jacob is doing well, said Tuccaro, adding he likes to tease his nephew as uncles are wont to do. But in the back of his mind is the thought of Jacob never knowing what happened to his mother.

Meanwhile, Cardinal has never spoken publicly about Amber, who was not only a sister-in-law to her, but a good friend. She said she is determined to push ahead for Amber to get justice, no matter how emotional she becomes giving her testimony.

'Someone out there knows...They have to call and let the police know. I pray. I believe the creator is going to help us.' - Judy Cardinal, sister-in-law of victim

"I want whoever it is [who murdered Amber] to be caught," said Cardinal. "Someone out there knows... They have to call and let the police know. I pray. I believe the creator is going to help us."

Tuccaro plans to read a letter from his mother to the commissioners when he testifies Tuesday. He will also present three recommendations that he hopes will make a difference in solving MMIWG cases.

The MMIWG inquiry will hear testimony from 58 witnesses over three days until Thursday in Edmonton. The inquiry's final report is due at the end of next year.

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