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Leah Kendra Anderson was 15 years old when she was murdered in her home community in northern Manitoba.
She lived all over the province growing up: Thompson, Winnipeg, God’s Lake. Life was not simple. When Leah was six years old, her father was murdered. Her mother struggled. Leah and her siblings were placed in foster care.
Still, according to relatives, Leah maintained a happy disposition. She was a resilient young woman, described by her aunt Myra Anderson as "full of life” and not shy to do anything.
Myra started taking care of Leah and her siblings in 2005, raising them in God’s Lake Narrows, an isolated Cree community only accessible by air or ice road in the winter.
Leah’s older sister, Tiffany, said God’s Lake Narrows always felt like a safe haven to her. But that all changed in January 2013, when Leah’s body was discovered near a snowmobile trail.
RCMP arrived hours later to investigate.
Myra Anderson hadn’t seen Leah for two days at this point. On Jan. 4, 2013, Leah said she was going ice skating with friends at the nearby rink.
"Every day, I picture her walking out that door, and [me] calling out to her, ‘Make sure you come back before your curfew.’ She said, ‘Yeah,’ and those were the last words I said to her."
It was Leah's last weekend in her home community, before she had to return to Cranberry Portage, Manitoba, for school.
When Leah didn’t come home that first night, family thought she was staying with friends. But then worry started setting in. That Sunday, they heard on the radio that a body had been found.
At first, it was believed Leah was mauled by dogs. Her body was badly disfigured.
She was, in fact, brutally beaten and murdered.
“It’s on my mind every day,” said Myra. “Like, who could have done this? Do I see this person? Is he around here?”
According to family, homicide investigators stayed in the community for only a few days after Leah’s death. Many initially believed her death would be an open and shut case. The winter road was closed at the time, so when the RCMP arrived to investigate, her killer was almost certainly in God’s Lake.
Leah’s family suspects the person who killed her is still in the community. But no arrests have been made to date.
It’s been more than two years since Leah’s death. Myra said she rarely speaks to police anymore, and that when she does, it’s typically because she initiated contact. She said the last time she spoke with someone was in February 2015.
There are rumours in the community about what happened to Leah that weekend, about where she might have gone that Friday night. But none of the rumours explain why a 15-year-old girl would turn up dead.
RCMP say they are still investigating Leah’s case. Leah’s family is still waiting for justice and supports a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women and girls.
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.