Nfld. & Labrador

'Her life isn't forgotten': Tama Bennett's mother remembers her free, artistic spirit

The 23-year-old took joy in building things with her hands and making music. Her mother is left in shock and grief after her passing.

Family held vigil Wednesday night in Nain to remember 23-year-old

A candlelight vigil was held by the family of Tama Benett on Wednesday night in their home community of Nain. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Jenny Bennett is still in shock, five days after finding out her daughter was found dead in a tent in the woods 400 kilometres from home.

While there have been public criticisms over the handling of the investigation into 23-year-old Tama Bennett's death, her mother is still trying to process the fact her daughter is gone.

"I can't think. My brain keeps shutting down. It's the shock. It's coming and going," she said. "I really don't believe I'm going to be able to pick up her body. My mind really isn't there yet. But I can't do nothing about it."

The Bennett family held a public vigil on Wednesday night in their home community of Nain. They invited CBC News to attend.

Jenny Bennett, middle, is joined by her mother Susie, left, and Regina Saimat at a vigil for her daughter, Tama Bennett. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

Jenny Bennett took the chance to speak about who her daughter was.

"She was very strong and very strong-willed and did what she wanted and [was] free, and very stubborn and humorous," Bennett said.

"She had a lot of different gifts and talents. She always built tables, coffee tables and shelves and knitted and made earrings.… She was very outgoing. She was hard when she wanted to be, but …"

"But she was loved," finished her grandmother, Susie Bennett.

Tama Bennett captioned this photo on Facebook 'nagligivagit ananak,' which translates to 'I love you, Mom.' Jenny Bennett says she's still in shock over losing her daughter. (Tama Bennett/Facebook)

Nunatsiavut President Johannes Lampe has called for an independent investigation into the Inuk woman's death. He said the RCMP jumped to conclusions and may have failed to gather key evidence from the scene.

Her body was found just after 1 a.m. last Friday in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. By the afternoon, police had told media her death was not considered suspicious.

Lampe and others in Labrador have said they are concerned with how quickly the possibility of foul play was dismissed.

Police are still actively investigating and the chief medical examiner has yet to rule on a cause of death, but the RCMP say Bennett's death is not considered suspicious.

The RCMP said in a statement earlier this week they know about community concerns around the investigation, but said they will "conduct a detailed and thorough investigation giving consideration to all available evidence."

"I just want everything to be done properly," Jenny Bennett said Wednesday night.

Surrounded by friends and family, she felt some relief from the harsh reality of losing a child.

"It's uplifting. It's very warm. It's a comforting feeling that her life isn't forgotten, and for people to come and share their love and show their respect," she said.

"That shows strength. And it shows there's hope in mankind."

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With files from Jacob Barker