Ottawa

Algonquin band hosts run to raise funds for missing girls

Nearly three years after two teenage girls disappeared from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation near Maniwaki, Quebec, members of the community organized a run to keep their names — and hope — alive for another day.

Nearly three years after two teenage girls disappeared from the Kitigan Zibi First Nation near Maniwaki, Quebec, members of the community organized a run to keep their names — and hope — alive for another day.

The Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation's run-walk attracted close to 100 racers. They gathered in Maniwaki, about 130 km north of Ottawa.

The First Nation hopes to use funds raised to enrich the reward for information about the disappearance of Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander. Odjick and Alexander were last seen in Maniwaki on September 6, 2008, and despite a tireless search effort, no one has seen or heard from them since.

Maria Jacko, Odjick's aunt, said the run is a way of keeping the girls' names on peoples minds.

"When people signed up they know they're running for a cause, they're running for our missing kids, for Maisy and Shannon and for all the missing kids. It's very positive," she said.

Dozens from outside the Kitigan Zibi joined the event to show their support for the cause.

"It's more than just a poster or a billboard," said Stan Wesley, who drove up from Ottawa with his wife Mandy. "To me the awareness today is that there's real people behind that, there's grieving people, there's people that just really want their kids home."

While the race itself, on a warm sunny day, was one of camaraderie, Kitigan Zibi chief Gilbert Whiteduck said the community is still in pain.

"It's been very difficult, I mean it's on the minds of everyone. I mean everyone goes to work, we've got to live our lives, but there's always a worry in saying, will there be a tip, will there be someone that comes forward."

"There's got to be closure one way or another, the important thing is closure," said Whiteduck.

With files from the CBC's Alistair Steele

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