Missing & Murdered: The Unsolved Cases of Indigenous Women and Girls
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Before Leona Brule disappeared in 1989, the 18­-year-­old woman would sew outfits and toys for her two-­year-­old niece Vanessa when she had a moment free from her work as a live-­in nanny.

“She just brightens the room,­­ got that personality when she just walked in and you can approach her and talk to her,” said Barb Brule, Leona’s older sister.

The details surrounding Leona’s disappearance are foggy. 

She was working as a nanny in Fort Providence, N.W.T, for at least three months in 1989. Her sister also knows she was travelling to Edmonton to visit a boyfriend.

Beyond that, they aren’t sure.

“I remember hearing when I was younger, from my mom’s brother, that she’d gone to a party with some people and that was one of the last places she’d been seen,” said Vanessa Brule, Leona’s niece.

“She’d gone out with some people, and she’d left the party some point in the evening with some other people, and she hadn’t been seen after that point.”

It would take about a year for her mom to formally report her missing, and RCMP said there is some evidence she was seen on the streets in Edmonton during the early 1990s. Other than that, her family has little to go on.

Officers are in touch with the family on a regular basis now, but weren’t for many years, according to Barb.

A recent case of a missing woman being found may have sparked interest, she thinks.

So far, they’re satisfied with the investigation.

There have been times when “one year, they thought they traced her to Fort McPherson, and someone said she looks like her. They approached this woman at a hotel, and it wasn’t her,” said Barb.

Officers have taken DNA from the family, but so far, nothing.

“Her health and social insurance number hasn’t been used,” said Barb.

As for a national inquiry, Leona’s niece Vanessa wants one.

“I was only about two when Leona had gone missing, and growing up, I had a lot of questions about where she’d gone and what had happened,” said Vanessa.

“I don’t think there was ever a lot of attention brought to it ... [An inquiry should] raise awareness that the rates of aboriginal women going missing and their deaths is quite high.”