Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls
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It’s been more than five years since Hillary Wilson’s body was discovered on a dirt path on the outskirts of Winnipeg.

According to police, the 18 year old was last seen the evening of Aug. 19, 2009 in Winnipeg’s North End at Selkirk Avenue and McKenzie Street.

Winnipeg police believe she made a phone call from a payphone at that spot around 8:30 p.m.

Early the next morning, her body was discovered in a field near the intersection of the Perimeter Highway and Highway 59 by a teenage boy walking his dog.

RCMP believe she was killed, but beyond that, the details surrounding her death are scarce.

“She was a very outgoing person. She was very cheerful, and she cared a lot about people, especially the people that were close to her,” said her uncle, Dwayne Balfour. “She was caring, loving, and she had dreams. She wanted to be a hairstylist -- a beautician. She was into that kind of stuff.”

Wilson had experienced the death of a friend just a month before she would be killed.

17-year-old Cherisse Houle was found dead near Sturgeon Creek by a construction crew, and Wilson had left a tribute message on her Facebook wall, remembering watching favourite movies and eating meals together.

Wilson had moved to Winnipeg from her home on the Norway House Cree Nation, and Balfour heard she wanted to return home before she died.

“I heard that she was trying to come home, you know?  Maybe if she came home, things would have been different,” he said. “I was worried about her because I knew living there -- it’s tough living down there in Winnipeg.”

When Balfour found out his niece had died, he was devastated.

“[Wilson’s mom] told me they found her on the outside of Winnipeg -- outskirts somewhere. They found her dead. Beaten up, killed, murdered,” he said. “It felt like everything stopped. I felt like passing out. I was in shock.”

Closing in on the sixth anniversary of her death, the family still does not have closure.

Her mom no longer plans memorial walks or vigils for her daughter, saying it’s too hard to relive each year.

“As long as I think about her, in my heart, it hurts. It hurts to say that I’m not going to see her,” said Balfour.

Wilson’s case has been taken on by Project Devote -- a joint task force between the RCMP and the Winnipeg Police Service created to investigate unsolved homicides and missing persons cases that involved exploited and at-risk people.

A spokesperson for the task force said they are actively investigating Wilson’s case and encourage anyone with information to come forward.

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CBC News continues to investigate missing and murdered indigenous women and girls in Canada, looking at the unsolved cases and telling the stories of the families and communities.