Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls
  return to profiles

CBC needs you

Do you have information on an unsolved case involving missing or murdered indigenous women or girls?

Contact us by email at
mmiw@cbc.ca
or contact us anonymously via
SecureDrop
secure drop logo

Lana Derrick was taking a forestry program at a college in Houston, B.C.

“She just loved working outside, and logging and all that stuff that went with it. She was really good in her classes,” said Sally Gibson, Derrick’s aunt.

“She was really gung ho about going to college, and she was doing really good. She was happy.”

Whenever the 19-year-old got a break, she’d head home to Terrace for a visit.

On the night of Oct. 6, 1995, Derrick went to her friend Clarice’s house in her hometown around 3 a.m. She picked up some money and asked if Clarice wanted to go to a party with her. Clarice said no.

The RCMP has received reports that Derrick was seen at a gas station on Highway 16 near  Terrace a little while later, but Gibson isn’t sure she was ever there.

It’s been almost 20 years, and there have been no developments in her disappearance.

Every year, her family organizes marches, talks to the media and tries to drum up clues about where she ended up,­­ but there has been nothing.

Now, RCMP are in touch infrequently.

“Unless something comes up or there's some rumour going around that they don't want us to go googly-eyed about, we don't hear from [officers] much,” said Gibson.

Initially she was disgusted with the police investigation, she said.

“We were up and down the highway and searching everywhere ... and 72 hours later all of a sudden they told us, ‘OK, everybody go home now. We’ll let you know anything from now on,’” said Gibson.

“We said, ‘Excuse me. We’re not going anywhere.’”

The family continued to search, but never found a sign of Derrick.

Now, Gibson said contact with police is better, and the RCMP officer in charge of the case as well as another who has worked on it came to the most recent march they held for Derrick in October 2014.

“Here we thought, you know, we'll be lucky if a policeman comes out of the police station where we walked to,” said Gibson.

“When [Wayne] Clary and the policewoman that's on Lana's case investigation both showed up for the walk ... we almost fell over.”

Derrick’s case is part of an RCMP task force called E-­PANA. It was launched to review and investigate a series of unsolved murders and disappearances with links to Highway 16,­­ dubbed the Highway of Tears.

The investigation is trying to determine if a serial killer or killers is responsible for deaths and disappearances along major highways in B.C.

Gibson said one of the things that troubles the family the most is that they believe multiple people attacked Derrick.

“She was tough, you know, and that's what hurts her dad so bad because if something happened to her, it took more than one,” said Gibson.

While police have updated the family on possible suspects, and they assure them they are investigating, there have been no developments in the case.

For Gibson, it’s time for a national inquiry.

“We sure want one, and it just totally puzzles me. We thought we found out everything there was to find out about what the government has done to our people, but there must still be something,” said Gibson.

Do you have more information on any of these cases?

CBC needs you

Contact us by email at mmiw@cbc.ca or anonymously via SecureDrop.

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.