Black Rock Beach vigil planned for Emma Fillipoff, missing B.C. woman

Halifax family and friends of Fillipoff aim to bring attention to the case, five years after she vanished.

Halifax family and friends of Fillipoff aim to bring attention to case five years after she vanished

Police are still searching for a tip that will help them find Emma Fillipoff, five years after she disappeared. (CBC)

Some Halifax residents held a vigil for missing B.C. woman Emma Fillipoff Tuesday night, lighting candles to mark the hour she was last seen five years ago.

Jordan Bonaparte said he and several other locals have tried to keep her story known as her family continues their search.

Fillipoff's mother, Shelley Fillipoff, will host a candlelight walk through Victoria to some of the locations Emma visited on her last known day. Candlelight vigils were planned across Canada, including at Black Rock Beach in Halifax's Point Pleasant Park.

"Emma for a period of time had lived in Nova Scotia," said Bonaparte. "While she was here, she had an affinity toward the ocean and often talked about how beautiful Nova Scotia was, specifically for its oceans. Black Rock Beach seems like the perfect spot Emma would like to be."

'Beyond heartwarming'

Reached by phone in B.C., Shelley Fillipoff said it was a "wonderful thing" to get support from the East Coast.

"Jordan's been nothing short of fantastic in terms of the work he's put into Emma's case," she said. 

Bonaparte didn't know Fillipoff, but has dedicated seven episodes of his popular The Night Time Podcast to Fillipoff's disappearance. Others in the Halifax area who did know her have helped her mother run online efforts to find Emma and written press releases to generate awareness. 

"They are all truly dedicated to finding Emma. It's beyond heartwarming," Shelley Fillipoff said. "I think it's amazing that there are people like that in the world that latch onto a story like Emma's.

"But Emma draws people in. Emma is lovable, even just by getting to know her through me, through the media, through looking at her picture."

Vanished five years ago

Fillipoff, originally from Ontario, was last seen acting strangely in front of the Empress Hotel in Victoria, B.C., on the evening of Nov. 28, 2012. Concerned police officers spoke to the then-26-year-old around 8 p.m., but let her go on her way.

She hasn't been seen or heard from since.

The campaign to find Emma Fillipoff includes a poster with many photos of the missing woman. (Submitted)

Earlier in the day, she'd purchased a prepaid cellphone and a prepaid credit card. The last known photo of her is from a security camera at the store.

Her car was found in the Chateau Victoria parking lot with all her belongings in it, including her passport, laptop, recently borrowed library books, a camera and numerous personal journals.

Bonaparte was drawn to the story. 

"It really started with watching the CBC documentary Finding Emma and connecting with Emma, because she reminds me a lot of so many of my friends, but also connecting with her mother, Shelley. I just wanted to do whatever I could to help," he said.

Hoping to spark fresh tips

Bonaparte has interviewed friends of Emma's, her mother, and other people connected to the case. A family member and friends who are part of the informal Help Find Emma Team that is chasing down leads and raising awareness planned to join him at the Black Rock Beach gathering Tuesday night.

"My hope with the podcast is not that I think I'm going to uncover some lead and solve the case. I really just want to lay Emma's story out in an organized way and have it told by the people who knew her best," he said.

"Just by spreading the word and getting Emma's story and picture out there in hopes that someone will recognize her as the girl who's been hanging around in their town, or maybe remembers seeing her that day."

There are more than 20,000 reports of missing Canadians every year, according to the RCMP. The city of Victoria alone sees about 500 cases. Many of those declared missing are found in the first 24 hours.

Fillipoff is one of the thousands of cases across Canada that remain unsolved.

The Halifax group will light a candle for Emma Fillipoff Tuesday evening. (Facebook)

with files from CBC News