Manitoba

Couple hopes discovery of human remains can bring closure in Sagkeeng

Human remains have been found on the Sagkeeng First Nation.

Police working to identify human jaw found in backyard

Search and rescue and RCMP vehicles on the scene in Sagkeeng First Nation Wednesday. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

A couple living on the Sagkeeng First Nation hope the discovery of a human jaw in their backyard on Monday can bring closure to someone missing a loved one.

"I'm really lost for words — like I can't describe how I really feel, just sad, hurt," Larry Wassaykeesic told CBC in an interview outside his home on Wednesday.

Wassaykeesic says he found the jaw on top of a tarp in a wooded area beside his family's home, like a backyard on the First Nation about 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg, while he was looking for one of his children's shoes.
Larry Wassaykeesic and Robin Fontaine found the remains while searching for their son's shoe. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

He says the woods are an area where dogs frequently play with bones, so he didn't immediately realize what he had found.

"I thought it was something else, maybe a dog's bone, a pug's jaw bone or something by the looks of it," he said.

Remains likely not historical

"Really grim for me, for my kids, 'cause my kids are always playing around barefoot or running around in the yard playing with stuff."

His partner took another look and then they realized it was a human jawbone. He says they went inside to get gloves before picking it up and brought it to the nearby police station.
The tarp is where Larry Wassaykeesic and his wife found human remains. The wooded area is beside their home and like a backyard to the couple. (Austin Grabish/CBC)

The remains have not yet been identified, an RCMP spokesperson said, adding they are not believed to be "historical."

Several RCMP officers including members of the force's forensic team continued to scour the woods and bush next door to Wassaykeesic's home off Highway 11 on Wednesday afternoon.

They worked in a ditch as people living in homes next door went to and from their properties.

Sagkeeng First Nation Chief Derrick Henderson says there are people from the community still missing, and because of that Wassaykeesic's wife, Robin Fontaine, hopes the discovery could lead to closure: "Hopefully it'll bring at least some peace to a family."

The Office of Chief Medical Examiner is working with RCMP to identify the remains.

The person has not been identified, an RCMP spokesperson said, adding the remains are not believed to be "historical." 1:22

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Corrections

  • A previous version of this story said a body had been found. Rather than a complete body, what was found was a human jaw.
    Jul 25, 2018 4:15 PM CT

About the Author

​Austin Grabish started reporting when he was young, landing his first byline when he was just 18. He joined CBC in 2016 after freelancing for several outlets. ​​In 2018, he was part of a team of CBC journalists who won the Ron Laidlaw Award for the corporation's extensive digital coverage on asylum seekers crossing into Canada. Email: austin.grabish@cbc.ca