Families of Sask. MMIWG victims Megan Gallagher and Ashley Morin unite for walk, renew plea for clues
'We have perpetrators out there who are watching, who know something,' FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear says
The searches for answers into the disappearances of two Indigenous Saskatchewan women — each of whom is now considered a homicide victim — were renewed Friday as friends and families gathered in Saskatoon to begin a 134-kilometre walk to North Battleford.
Ashley Morin, 31, was last seen in North Battleford in July 2018 while Megan Gallagher, 30, went missing in Saskatoon last September — two more people to add the long list of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in Canada.
"We have perpetrators out there who are watching, who know something," Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Vice Chief Heather Bear said on the front steps of the downtown Saskatoon police headquarters. "We plead with you to come forward in the name of healing and let your soul rest, your conscience rest.
"The ones who are missed, they have families. They're loved. They're human beings. They're not just numbers."
Brian Gallagher, Megan Gallagher's father, said even the tiniest piece of information may prove useful to police.
"If you drop a piece of sand into a pool of water, it makes ripples and they spread out and things will happen," he said.
'Stories we have to remember'
Friday's walk also offered supporters a chance to find strength in numbers and share memories.
Saskatoon Tribal Council Chief Mark Arcand spoke of the last time he saw Morin, his cousin, who worked as a blackjack dealer at the casino in Battleford.
"We sat there, we played and we laughed and we talked about family," Arcand said. "Those are the kind of stories we have to remember."
Morin's family is from Ahtahkakoop First Nation.
Saskatchewan RCMP's northern major crimes unit is investigating Morin's disappearance, which was immediately considered suspicious and eventually considered a homicide.
On the one-year anniversary of Morin's disappearance, the RCMP released a photo of a two-tone, apparently windowless van — lighter on the top, darker on the bottom. The van was seen on July 10, 2018, at about 9:30 p.m. CST. at the corner of 96 Street and 16 Ave in North Battleford — one of the locations where Morin was last seen.
Police said the people in the van were believed to have valuable information that could help find Morin.
"Ashley is not missing," said relative and family spokesperson Krista Fox at Friday's event. "She was taken from all of us. And we won't give up until we bring her home."
The Saskatoon Police Service similarly released information to the public in an effort to produce tips about Gallagher's September 2020 disappearance.
Gallagher was Métis and had ties to the communities of Île-à-la-Crosse and Cumberland House. She was last seen on video surveillance at a Saskatoon convenience store in the 3700 block of Diefenbaker Drive on Sept. 20, 2020.
This past May, the police service released an audio recording of two people using Gallagher's cellphone to call a cab. It was recorded one day after she was last seen.
Police said the two people asked to be picked up on the 700 block of Weldon Avenue and were dropped off on the 100 block of Avenue P S. at about 3:30 a.m. CST on Sept. 21, 2020.
Police hope to identify the people on the call so they can be questioned.
Walking stick helps with healing, father says
Saskatoon police officers joined the walking group as it moved out of downtown Saskatoon and headed toward the highway on Friday morning.
Saskatoon Police and RCMP vehicles assisted the group too.
"We're reminded today that jurisdictional boundaries don't apply if someone is missing in one of our families," Saskatoon Police Chief Troy Cooper said. "We care as a community."
Brian Gallagher said the Morin family gifted a walking stick to the Gallaghers the day before.
"It is a powerful little tool that is already helping us heal," he said.
Laughter helps people in their struggles, too, he said.
"[Suffering] has the potential to take your life, so please, smile with us."
This morning, the friends and families of two missing women — Megan Gallagher and Ashley Morin — departed together from the front steps of Saskatoon Police headquarters. They’re on a walk to North Battelford to raise hope and awareness about their searches for answers. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/yxe?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#yxe</a> <a href="https://t.co/LIKDGjz48m">pic.twitter.com/LIKDGjz48m</a>—@gqinsk
with files from Penny Smoke