Manitoba

Manitoba families furious with RCMP's missing persons database delay

An RCMP database for missing persons and unidentified remains is still incomplete and is far over budget, five years after the Harper government touted the database as “concrete action” on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Harper government promise of national database for unidentified remains stalled 5 years later

An RCMP database for missing persons and unidentified remains is still incomplete and is far over budget, five years after the Harper government touted the database as "concrete action" on missing and murdered indigenous women. 2:16

An RCMP database for missing persons and unidentified remains is still incomplete and is far over budget, five years after the Harper government touted the database as "concrete action" on missing and murdered indigenous women.

It likely won't be ready until late 2016, stoking frustration among victims' families in Manitoba.

"It's a disappointment, really. The RCMP were promising us that they would help us find justice for murdered ones or bring missing ones home. Nothing has been done, nothing at all," said Crystal Bruyere, whose cousin Fonessa was killed eight years ago. "They haven't told us anything at all, just that her case is still at a standstill."

Fonessa was found dead in a field northwest of Winnipeg in August 2007 at age 17. She had been missing less than a month.

Her family said police told them Fonessa was stabbed 17 times.
Fonassa Bruyere, 17, was killed in 2007. Her case remains unsolved.

Now, her case is being investigated by Project Devote -- a joint task force between Winnipeg police and RCMP.

Documents obtained by CBC show the database has been plagued by technical problems, pushing back an expected launch date in early 2013.

For Agnes Abraham, whose sister Sharon went missing from Vancouver in 2001, that's too long.

Abraham said police didn't start looking for her sister until 2004, when a finger nail was found on Robert Pickton's farm in B.C.

"[Police initially] said [Sharon] was an adult. 'Maybe she doesn't want to get ahold of you. Maybe she didn't want to be found,'" said Abraham. "I've phoned so many times, and I couldn't get anyone to find her."

Eventually, officers found Sharon's body on Pickton's farm.

Sharon was from Sagkeeng First Nation, which has the highest number of unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada.

Abraham believes racism is to blame for inaction on MMIW.

"We are rated as second-rate people – housing, missing and murdered people," said Abraham.

Assembly of First Nations Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde said the delays are disheartening.

"It's again further evidence that this government really doesn't take this national tragedy very seriously," said Bellegarde.

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