Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan's missing and murdered indigenous women: Margaret Blackbird

Saskatchewan is home to Canada's oldest MMIW case. Margaret Blackbird went missing in 1951. There are no photos and little clues as to where she went. She left behind two small children and a husband.

Margaret Blackbird went missing 64 years ago, leaving behind few clues

There are 33 unsolved cases of missing and murdered indigenous women in Saskatchewan. (CBC)

For some families, closure will be nearly impossible to find. This is likely the case for the family of Margaret Blackbird. It's been 64 years since Margaret went missing. All her living relatives have left are spotty memories of a woman they hardly knew.

No photos are available to put on Margaret Blackbird's missing person's report. (RCMP Website)

There are no pictures of Margaret Blackbird. There are few details about her case. In fact, very little is known about why she left her husband, children and home community or where she went. RCMP investigators said she was reported missing by a distant relative.

"I'm in total darkness here," her son Billy Blackbird said. "I just don't know anything about it."

Billy was about six months old when his mother left sometime in 1951. He and his sister, Marlene, were taken in and raised by different family members and did not see each other again until he was 13 years old.

I guess my mom used to sing and play music and used to sing in bars.- Billy Blackbird

"I guess my mom used to sing and play music and used to sing in bars."

Billy said an uncle once told him he thought he saw Margaret in Lethbridge in 1957. Others said when she left, Margaret claimed to be checking herself into a sanatorium. Many believed she was headed for Alberta or British Columbia. Another person told him she might have died in a car accident in Edmonton, possibly in the 1960s.

To date, none of these bits and pieces of information have provided any significant leads about what happened to Margaret Blackbird. 

Cecile Blackbird, Billy's half-sister, said the last thing she remembers about Margaret was a short visit when Cecile was just 12 years old, but she said remembers very little about that visit. She also remembers a picture of Margaret standing shyly with Cecile's father — Tom Blackbird, Margaret's husband. Margaret was pregnant with her daughter Marlene at the time.

"She was smiling," Cecile recalled. But that picture has disappeared along with Margaret.

Margaret's case is the oldest on record in Canada. She is also one of dozens of unsolved cases in Saskatchewan. With few tangible leads to follow, and no one with any information coming forward, Margaret's case may remain on the books indefinitely.

If you know anything about this case or any of the others listed on CBC Saskatchewan, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Merelda Fiddler

CBC producer

Merelda Fiddler has been a producer and journalist with CBC Radio for almost 15 years. Throughout, she has covered many of the stories of Saskatchewan's missing and murdered indigenous women, and has had the honour of meeting their families and telling their stories.

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