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Never forgotten: Leduc rally honours missing and murdered Indigenous women

A small group gathered in Leduc on Saturday, clutching posters of the five Indigenous women whose remains were found within an eight-kilometre radius in Leduc County.

'Please help us,' implores Alberta mother of Amber Tuccaro, found dead in 2012

An Edmonton rally for missing and murdered Indigenous women focused on four women that were found within an eight-kilometre radius in Leduc County. 1:23

"Look, it's Amber," says Vivian Tuccaro, pointing to the sun as it breaks through clouds over Leduc, Alta.

She smiles as the rays reach her face. It's Tuccaro's first smile since the beginning of a rally in honour of missing and murdered Indigenous women such as her daughter, Amber Tuccaro.

A small group gathered in Leduc on Saturday, clutching posters of the four Indigenous women whose remains have been found within an eight-kilometre radius in Leduc County since 2002.
Amber Tuccaro went missing in 2010. Her body was found two years later in a farmer's field near Leduc, Alta.

Amber Tuccaro was last seen alive on Aug. 18, 2010 at a hotel in Nisku. The 20-year-old woman went missing that night after she decided to hitchhike into Edmonton.

"I knew something was wrong because Amber and I were always in contact," said Vivian Tuccaro on the abrupt end of messages from her daughter.

"Of course I had hope, I mean that's all I had, right?" 

That hope flickered out in the summer of 2012 when Amber's remains were discovered in a Nisku farmer's field.

"It changed me forever," Vivian Tuccaro  said. "I'm broken today and it's like it just happened yesterday.

"I don't think I'll ever be the same person again."
Vivian Tuccaro attended a Leduc rally on Saturday in honour of her daughter, Amber, who went missing in 2010. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

Police released a recording in 2012 of a cellphone call from Amber on the night she went missing, in which a man's voice is audible. 

More than four years later, Vivian said she still prays someone will recognize and identify that voice.

"Please listen to the recording of Amber's last phone call and please call if you recognize the voice," she said.

"Please help us."

'Stand with us'

The rally's organizer, April Eve Wiberg, said she's beginning to doubt Amber's murder will ever be solved by police.

"But we are determined to find out who's responsible for stealing her from her family," she said, gesturing to the people around her.

"We need everybody to be our voice and stand with us in solidarity to fight violence against our women and girls."
'We need everyone to be our voice,' said April Eve Wiberg, who organized the rally in Leduc. (Zoe Todd/CBC)

The four Indigenous women whose remains have been found in Leduc County since 2002 account for less than two per cent of the Indigenous women marked as missing or murdered in Canada.

Chief Steve Courtoreille of Tuccaro's Fort Chipewyan community urges the Leduc RCMP to renew their efforts. 

"Take it as if it's your child that's missing, go and find your child," he said. "Help us find our children and our people who have been missing for many years."

The remains of the following Indigenous women have been found within an 8-km radius in Leduc County:

  • Edna Bernard — last seen Sept. 22, 2002. Remains found the next day. 
  • Katie Sylvia Ballantyne — last seen April 28, 2003. Remains found July 7, 2003.
  • DeloresBrower — last seen May 15, 2004. Remains found April 19, 2015.
  • Amber Tuccaro — last seen Aug. 18, 2010. Remains found Sept. 1, 2012.   

Solving Amber's case is her mother's second-greatest wish. 

"If I could have one wish granted it would be to have Amber back," Tuccaro said. "I miss my baby so much — every day, all the time."

She wants answers for herself, she added, but also for Amber's seven-year-old son Jacob.

"The questions are starting to come: 'Where is my mom?'" she said.

"He sees something on TV or kids tell him, and he comes home and asks me, 'Mama, what happened to my mom?' 

"That's the hardest part for me. It's not fair to Jacob."

Tuccaro said she won't give up on demanding answers for her grandson. She asks anyone with information to call the Leduc RCMP.

@ZoeHTodd