Family of Marilyn Bergeron, missing for 10 years, fights for change
Quebec police need to revolutionize the way they handle missing persons cases, family says
Ten years after she vanished, the family of Marilyn Bergeron is still looking for answers about her disappearance, and are fighting to change how Quebec police handle missing persons cases.
Bergeron was 24-years-old and had just moved back to her parents' house in Quebec City after living in Montreal.
Her mother, Andrée Béchard, said it was a spring-like day Feb. 17, 2008, when Bergeron told her she was going for a walk and would be back in a few hours.
She never returned.
Bergeron was last seen at a Café Depot in Saint-Romuald, on Quebec City's South Shore.
Quebec City police are handling the investigation, but Marc Bellemare, the family's lawyer, said in general, municipal police forces have limited experience in dealing with disappearances.
The family has been trying to have the Sûreté du Québec take over, but the Public Security Ministry has rejected their requests.
Béchard said her daughter was in a "precarious" psychological state when she disappeared, but the family never believed Bergeron committed suicide.
Police need more powers, mother says
Béchard wants police to be given more powers to find missing adults, like in Alberta. The Missing Persons Act, passed in 2012, granted police access to personal information such as cell phone records, computer records and financial records when they are investigating a missing persons case.
She said with an existing blueprint of what such a law could look like, it shouldn't be hard for Quebec to adopt something similar.
Bergeron's sister Nathalie called on authorities to improve the centralized database of information on missing people and make it more accessible. She said some names are missing from the database, for example.
Nathalie Bergeron, who now lives in the U.S., says in that country the information is much easier to find.
"The will to find her hasn't been extinguished with time. It's the opposite — she's still with us."
$30K reward offer extended, march planned
The family is extending the offer of a $30,000 reward for information on Bergeron's whereabouts until May 17.
Since increasing the amount of the reward last year, they received about 80 tips from the public.
Café Depot franchises across the province will carry small posters with Bergeron's face on it to help find her, said Pina Arcamone, director of the Missing Children's Network.
The family also plans to organize a march in the Quebec City area in the coming months to mark the anniversary of her disappearance.
The family believes someone knows something about what happened to her, and doesn't think the system is set up in a way that will maximize the chances she'll be found.
Béchard wants to see missing persons cases treated like homicides. She said they are going through the same process as families of homicide victims, but they can't start mourning since there is hope Bergeron is still alive.
"We feel abandoned," she said. "Something may have happened to our daughter. Who says she wasn't murdered?"
With files from Radio-Canada