Edmonton

A year after Gloria Gladue went missing, her family is determined to bring her home

Almost a year after Gloria Gladue went missing in the Wabasca area, her family has more questions than answers. They say they'll continue to seek information until they find out what happened.

Gladue vanished in October 2015. RCMP have intensified their investigation into her disappearance

Gloria Gladue went missing almost one year ago, and her daughter says the family has more questions than answers. (Supplied/Nicole Gladue-Weesemat)

Nicole Gladue-Weesemat last heard from her mother almost a year ago, before she vanished.

"love u all gudnite," Gloria Gladue wrote. That text message appeared in a grey bubble on her daughter's phone at 10:51 p.m. on Oct. 8, 2015.

The next day, Gladue, 44, picked up a prescription in Desmarais, Alta., 330 kilometres north of Edmonton.

No one has seen or heard from her since.

Gladue was possibly somewhere in nearby Wabasca on Oct. 10, 2015, Gladue-Weesemat said. Police said her mother's cellphone pinged off a tower in that northern Alberta hamlet around 9:45 p.m., before it went silent for good.

"The texting and calling, it just stopped," Gladue-Weesemat said.

"All of a sudden it's like nothing. And I know she wouldn't up and leave and go all this time without reaching out to one of us, or at least her friends or her sister. It's like she disappeared. I just don't get it."

Nicole Gladue-Weesemat keeps this screenshot of the last text messages she received from her mother before she went missing. (Supplied/Nicole Gladue-Weesemat)

In January, RCMP issued a news release renewing their request for help from the public in finding Gladue. Her description was summed up in bullet points — female, Aboriginal, brown hair, brown eyes, five feet seven inches tall, 133 lbs.

"The RCMP want to confirm that Gloria is safe," Cpl. Kevin Peterson said in the January release. "We believe the public is our best resource in locating missing people."

Eight months later, Cpl. Hal Turnbull says the investigation into Gladue's disappearance has intensified.

"The tools that one would employ investigating a homicide are being brought to bear on this missing person's case," Turnbull said in an interview.

"It's not a foregone conclusion that we consider her deceased, by any means. It is being investigated by our major crimes unit, simply because of the situation and the criteria that this situation meets."

Turnbull said that criteria includes elements of Gladue's lifestyle and the fact that communication with her family ended abruptly.

Gladue's family said she struggled with addiction and hitchhiked. She didn't call any one place home, but instead stayed with friends and family across Alberta, including with Gladue-Weesemat, who lives in Edson. 

She was a good grandma, outgoing and funny, and always remained in contact with her seven children, Gladue-Weesemat said.

The family isn't hearing a lot from the RCMP lately, she added. They're still investigating, but that's all she knows.

"It's pretty much, 'We've got no updates for you right now, we've got nothing to tell you right now,' " Gladue-Weesemat said. "That's pretty much it, and it's hard because we hear a lot of rumours in Wabasca."

This is the last photo Nicole Gladue-Weesemat took of her mother, Gloria, before she went missing. (Supplied/Nicole Gladue-Weesemat)

She's frustrated and angry. She has attended events for missing and murdered Indigenous women over the past year and said she finds strength speaking with other families of missing women.

On Sept. 8, the Alberta government joined the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, which began Sept. 1 and will run until Dec. 31, 2018. The inquiry will examine the factors that drive a systemic, high rate of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and review federal and provincial laws.

I just hope that whoever knows where our mother is, or what happened, just finds it in their hearts to say something.- Nicole Gladue-Weesemat

It's a promising step, Gladue-Weesemat said, adding she hopes it offers other families of missing relatives the answers they're still trying to get.

"As each day goes there's another missing girl, another missing woman," Gladue-Weesemat said. "I really do hope this inquiry does something. I just pray, that out of all the other missing families, there will be some light into this, some answers."

"We're not giving up until she's found," Nicole Gladue-Weesemat said. (Supplied/Nicole Gladue-Weesemat)

On Oct. 9, Gladue-Weesemat and her family will mark one year since they last heard from Gladue. They're hoping they won't have to — they'd rather have her home safe with them, meeting new grandchildren and catching up on 365 days of memories.

Someone knows what happened to her, Turnbull said, and investigators are keenly interested in speaking with anyone who has any information about what Gladue was doing, and where she was, in the days before her disappearance. 

Her family would like to know, too. 

"I just hope that whoever knows where our mother is, or what happened, just finds it in their hearts to say something," Gladue-Weesemat said.

"We're not giving up until she's found. Doesn't matter how she's coming home, we're bringing her home regardless. She was a mother, she was a grandmother, a sister, an aunt. She was a human being, she was a person. It's killing us not knowing."

About the Author

Andrea Ross is a journalist with CBC Vancouver. andrea.ross@cbc.ca Twitter: @_rossandrea