Manitoba

Loved ones not in RCMP report on missing and murdered aboriginal women

As RCMP were putting the finishing touches on an updated report about improved efforts to find missing indigenous women, two grieving daughters were trying to convince them their own mothers were dead.

Daughters still seek answers in mothers disappearances

Trailer home believed to be Audrey Desjarlais' last known residence. (CBC photo)

As RCMP were putting the finishing touches on an updated report about improved efforts to find missing indigenous women, two grieving daughters were trying to convince them their own mothers were dead.

"I was starting to get mad, like, don't you want to know what happened to my mother?" said Georgina Sims, whose mother Elizabeth Dorion, went missing in 1999.  

Last week, RCMP released "Missing and Murdered Aboriginal Women: 2015 Update to the National Operational Overview."

The report was a follow-up to one written in 2014, where they introduced programs to prevent, identify and solve cases of missing and murdered indigenous girls and women.

They called the latest report, which added case profiles as recently as April, their most comprehensive one yet.

Mother's name missing from list

But the loved ones of some women say otherwise.

Audrey Desjarlais, for example, was never on their list, despite the fact her daughter Barb Desjarlais was convinced her mother was not only missing, but that she was actually the unidentified woman pulled from the Red River in Winnipeg three years ago.

For a time, the Winnipeg Police Service suspected this too, but they later refused to do a DNA comparison on her because, in part, they were told Audrey was not missing.

Family members said that Steinbach RCMP determined she was alive and well. When in fact, she was laying in a morgue and later, an unmarked grave.

It was only when the CBC told her story in April — while the RCMP report was being finalized — that a DNA test was performed. They later concluded Audrey Desjarlais and the woman pulled from the river were one-and-the-same.

It's hard just knowing that nobody cared for so long- Barb Desjarlais

"It's hard just knowing that nobody cared for so long that she was gone or like, missing, " Barb Desjarlais said, from her Regina home.

"I have a lot of 'ugly' inside me because of it. It hurts."

Today, Desjarlais has some closure but more questions for authorities; why did authorities allegedly inform Winnipeg police that her mother was alive when she wasn't? Why aren't authorities gaining access to her last known address, a trailer home in a Steinbach trailer park?

"What if my mom's things are in there and what if they'll find out something about her (disappearance?)," Desjarlais asked. 

Waiting to share deadly secret

It is a pain that Georgina Sims can relate to.

In April, she told the CBC she had learned a deadly secret about her long lost mother Elizabeth Dorion. Friends told Sims that Dorion was not just missing, but dead.

They also claimed to know how she died, why she died and who was responsible for it. Furthermore, they were willing to talk to authorities about it. RCMP were told about it and given their contact information.

But for two weeks, she didn't hear from them. Finally, after the CBC told her story, she tracked police down in frustration.

"They said they weren't given the message [that I wanted to talk]," Sims said. "Like this was the first they'd heard of it."

Today, Sims said they've now taken her statement and took a DNA sample — part of their mandate to enhance the national missing persons databank.

But an RCMP spokesperson would not comment on the delay in taking her statement or whether they're now investigating her mother's disappearance as a homicide.

They also refused to comment about Barb Desjarlais' concerns, instead referring questions to the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS). Requests for comment from the WPS have not been returned.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now