Ottawa

Remains unearthed at construction site ID'd as woman last seen in 2017

Ottawa police have identified human remains found at a Deschamps Avenue construction site in late September as Mary Papatsie, an Inuk woman last seen in the Vanier area more than five years earlier.

Mary Papatsie’s remains were unearthed at Deschamps Avenue construction site in September

In late September, the Ottawa Police Service's homicide unit began investigating after possible human remains were dug up at a construction site in Vanier. On Sunday police identified those remains as belonging to Mary Papatsie, who was last seen nearby in 2017. (Ottawa police handout)

Ottawa police have identified human remains found at a Deschamps Avenue construction site in late September as Mary Papatsie, an Inuk woman last seen in the Vanier area more than five years earlier.

Papatsie was 39 years old at the time of her April 2017 disappearance. 

The Ottawa Police Service's major crime unit took over the file two and a half months later, and in September 2017 announced it had deemed her disappearance suspicious.

Last month, the homicide unit began investigating the discovery of potential human remains unearthed at a construction site at Deschamps Avenue near Desrosiers Street.

A red dress hangs from fencing at a construction site, while flowers rest on the ground.
A red dress hangs from fencing at the Vanier construction site where Papatsie's remains were located in September. (Rosalie Sinclair/Radio-Canada)

Papatsie's family had previously told CBC News that she'd been an easygoing young woman who was raised in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, on Baffin Island.

She'd been working in the North assisting doctors and nurses, her brother said, until about two decades ago when she was sexually assaulted. She then moved to Ottawa, where she was living on the streets at the time of her disappearance.

In previous interviews, family members have also aired their frustration with the police response, saying in 2019 that they felt more could have been done to spread word of her disappearance. 

They also emphasized that Papatsie had a family that loved and cared about her. The youngest of eight siblings, Papatsie had 10 children. 

Anyone with information is urged to contact the homicide unit or Crime Stoppers.

On Sept. 28, Ottawa police were called to the construction site at the northeast corner of Deschamps Avenue and Desrosiers Street. (Melanie Campeau/CBC)

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