Ottawa

A family's 'mixed emotions' as tip prompts new search for Quebec teens

New information received by police in the 2008 disappearance of two Indigenous teens has led homicide investigators to conduct a search at the Kitigan Zibi reserve in Quebec.

Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander disappeared in 2008, new search began Monday, ended Wednesday

Maisy Odjick's mother, Laurie Odjick, says the family is looking for closure since her daughter's 2008 disappearance. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

New information received by police in the 2008 disappearance of two Indigenous teens has led homicide investigators to conduct a search at the Kitigan Zibi reserve in Quebec, leaving her family with "mixed emotions."

Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander disappeared after planning to go out dancing one September night in 2008. They were 16 and 17 at the time, respectively.

The girls were supposed to spend the night at Alexander's house in Maniwaki, Que., which is north of Gatineau and close to Kitigan Zibi.
This poster was created by the families of Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander. (Supplied by family)

Their belongings were found the next day at the home, but Alexander and Odjick weren't there — and haven't been seen since.

Odjick's mother, Laurie Odjick, said police called a few weeks ago to let her know they received a tip about where the girls' bodies might be found.

"You think about the things that could have happened to her, because if she was buried there, if she was there, the horror that she might have went through," Odjick told CBC Wednesday. 

"That was my thought. You don't want your child going, or suffering through any sort of pain."
Laurie Odjick's daughter Maisy has been missing from the Kitigan Zibi reserve in Quebec in September 2008. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Police search area around creek

But Laurie Odjick's wait wasn't over.
Crews used a small excavator to search the area for evidence on Wednesday afternoon. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Recent flooding had made the water levels in the area too high, so police told her nothing could be done until it receded.

Until that finally happened this week, the family's "nightmare" continued, said Odjick, with everyone trying to keep busy knowing that closure could be soon at hand.

"You can't get excited or sad," said Earl McGregor, Odjick's step-grandfather. "You don't pay too much attention right away." 

Sûreté du Québec (SQ) homicide investigators have been in the area since Monday, searching Pitobig Creek near Paganakomin Road in Kitigan Zibi. They returned to the area Wednesday to search the ground around the creek for evidence, using a small excavator.

Police discuss search of Pitobig Creek area

4 years ago
0:58
Quebec provincial police have been searching the Pitobig Creek area in Kitigan Zibi for evidence in a 2008 disappearance. 0:58

They're also interviewing about 20 people, according to SQ spokesperson Martine Asselin.

Not knowing hardest part

The nearly nine years since her daughter's disappearance has been "hell," Odjick said.

"It's like a parent's worst nightmare, not knowing. Not knowing is the thing that hits me the hardest." 
Dive teams search Pitobig Creek on the Kitigan Zibi First Nation on July 18, 2017, after police received a tip regarding the disappearance of teenagers Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander. (Sûreté du Québec)

Now, facing a potentially grim reality, Odjick's emotions are mixed.

 "You have this in your heart where you don't want them to find anything, but then as a family you want closure," she said, with tears beginning to fill her eyes. 

"To actually pinpoint on how you feel. I can't, I can't describe that."

McGregor said he feels much the same, adding the eventual "emotional relief" will lift a weight the family has been carrying for too long.
Earl McGregor says finally knowing what happened to his step-granddaughter, Maisy Odjick, would be 'a bit of relief' for the family. (Ashley Burke/CBC)

Girls 'don't just disappear'

It's Laurie Odjick's firm belief that there are people out there who know what happened to the two teens. She's imploring them to come forward to police.

"I mean, two girls don't just disappear off the face of the earth. And I'm hoping one day those people who do know something step forward," she said.

Odjick visited the site of the search early Wednesday afternoon to acknowledge how thankful she is to the team. 

"My family's hurting. In a way, I just can't wait for it to be over."

Asselin said while the SQ wouldn't return to the site the next day, the investigation will continue.

now