mb-rcmpbody

RCMP officers look for clues in the area where Hillary Angel Wilson's body was found on Aug. 20. ((CBC))

Two Winnipeg women whose bodies were found a little more than a month apart were friends who shared meals and movies.

The body of Hillary Angel Wilson, 18, was found Aug. 20 on a dirt path in a sparsely populated area in East St. Paul. The RCMP, which confirmed her identity following an autopsy on the weekend, are treating her death as a homicide.

On July 1, the body of Cherisse Houle, 17, was uncovered by a construction crew working near the shore of Sturgeon Creek in the Rural Municipality of Rosser. Police have not ruled her death a homicide and are still investigating.

When Houle's body was found, Wilson wrote a tribute to her on a memorial page posted on Facebook. In the tribute, Wilson recalled watching movies and eating meals with Houle.

An autopsy has been performed on Wilson's body, but police have not revealed the cause of death.

houle-new

Cherisse Houle's body was found in a creek near a section of dirt road just off Highway 221. ((Photo courtesy Houle family))

A 14-year-old boy who was walking his dog near the intersection of Winnipeg's North Perimeter Highway and Highway 59 found the body.

Both Wilson and Houle were aboriginal, a fact that has Raven Thundersky shaking her head. She is the chair of Sisters in Spirit, a campaign launched five years ago by the Native Women's Association of Canada to raise awareness about violence against aboriginal women.

"I can't remember the last time – and I mean for aboriginal women – when the last time was that we actually were able to see the face and have the name of one of the murderers responsible for taking one of our women," she said.

Thundersky, whose sister was murdered in 1981 in Norway House, wants to see the government put more resources into education and safe houses for young aboriginal women. She also believes stronger relations between police and the aboriginal community would go a long way to resolving many of the cases involving missing women.

"Quite often … people know things [but] whatever their reasons are [they] don't trust to go to the police with that information," she said.

Thundersky applauded the recent move by the RCMP to review all unsolved homicides involving women in Manitoba, searching for common threads to determine whether a serial killer might be responsible for some of them.

Conservative justice critic Kelvin Goertzen said on Monday the province should establish its own task force to look at cases of missing or murdered women. He said police and provincial officials should adopt methods followed by other Prairie provinces and dedicate resources to capture and prosecute offenders responsible for such crimes.

The NDP government needs to establish the task force to "ensure that women at high risk are not easy prey," Goertzen said.