'It's not fair': Thunderchild First Nation woman mourning violent death of son, disappearance of family friend

Two provinces, two young people, a violent death and a disappearance that's being investigated as a homicide are turning into a nightmare for a woman from the Thunderchild First Nation.

Law enforcement investigating death of Cook-Buckle, disappearance of Tiki Brook-Lyn Laverdiere

Nicole Cook, an Edmonton woman who was born on the Thunderchild First Nation in Saskatchewan, lost her son, Tristen Cook-Buckle and her family friend, Tiki Laverdiere, who went missing after she travelled to Saskatchewan for her son's funeral. (Nicole Cook/Facebook)

Two provinces, two young people, a violent death and a disappearance that's being investigated as a homicide are turning into a nightmare for a woman from the Thunderchild First Nation.

At the beginning of April, Nicole Cook lost her son, Tristen Nicholas Morningeagle Cook-Buckle. His body was found burned in a vehicle near Vegreville, Alta. on April 5. 

Earlier the same day, a puddle of his blood was found near 92nd Street and 110th Avenue in Edmonton.

Tristen Nicholas Morningeagle Cook-Buckle, 20, was found in a car near Vegreville, Alta. on April 5, 2019. Edmonton police are investigating his death as a homicide. (Supplied/ Cook-Buckle)

Roughly three weeks later, his family held a closed-casket funeral for the young man at the Chief James Okanee Memorial Centre on the Thunderchild First Nation in west-central Saskatchewan. One of the attendees, Tiki Laverdiere, 25, who travelled from Edmonton for the funeral, would disappear a short-time later.

RCMP are now investigating her disappearance as a homicide and Cook is looking for answers as she said Laverdiere was a close friend of the family and one of Tristen's best.

On May 21, 20 days before RCMP announced they were investigating Laverdiere's death as a homicide, Cook posted to Facebook that she's still "holding on to hope" she would come through her door. 

Cook, who now lives in Edmonton, said her son was hanging around with a street organization known as Red Alert in Edmonton, but said she wasn't sure if her son had joined the gang. His Facebook profile listed him as a "striker" within the group.

"He kind of kept me in the dark when it came to stuff like that just because I never wanted something like this to happen," she said in an interview from Edmonton. 

She said Tristen started hanging out with the group around the time of his death, and shortly after, she started witnessing a transformation in her son. 

Tiki Brook-Lyn Laverdiere is from Edmonton but was in the North Battleford area for a funeral. (Submitted by RCMP)

"He just changed on me. He wasn't the same Tristen," she said.

Cook said before the change, her son was "full of life" and was always willing to help others.

"He liked to see people laugh and just put a smile on someone's face," she said. "He had a very big heart and he trusted far too many people." 

Now, Cook is hoping for people to come forward with information about her son and about Laverdiere's disappearance. 

"It's awful what's happening out there to these young people and it's not fair. It's not fair at all, they didn't even get to live their life."

In a news release, Saskatchewan RCMP reported they had executed search warrants at a number of locations In North Battleford as part of the investigation in to Laverdiere's death and are reviewing the information.

Tristen Nicholas Morningeagle Cook-Buckle can be seen with his mother, Nicole Cook, in this photo from Facebook. Edmonton police are investigating Cook-Buckle's death as a homicide. (Nicole King/Facebook)

Scott Pattison, a spokesman with the Edmonton Police Service, said in an email to CBC that Cook-Buckle was known to police and that his death is still under investigation.

Tanya Sutherland, whose son Kolby has the same father as Tristen, said her family was also devastated by news of his death. Like Cook, she hopes people come forward with information.

"Just tell them what happened," she said, her voice cracking. "How could somebody be so cruel. How are humans so ruthless. If anybody knows anything, they should just tell, so the family has closure."

Anyone with information about the death of Cook-Buckle are asked to contact Edmonton Police Service while RCMP in Saskatchewan are asking anyone with information on Laverdiere's disappearance to contact their local detachment.

About the Author

Covering everything and anything for CBC Saskatoon, Morgan is a journalist interested in municipal and provincial affairs, Canadian crime and Canadian politics. Familiar with a variety of beats, Morgan has worked as a staff reporter for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, Metro Calgary, Metro Saskatoon and the Fort McMurray Today and now works for CBC in Saskatoon.


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