Missed Lives Project raises profile of missing people
300 people missing for more than 1 year, 200 unidentified remains unclaimed in Ontario, group says
The Missed Lives Project, based in Ontario, pushes for improved services and helps investigate cases that have fallen through the cracks.
There are 300 people in the province who have been missing for more than one year and more than 200 unidentified remains, unclaimed for longer than a year, in Ontario, according to the project website.
"There are people who are missing who are from marginalized backgrounds and I think that's one of the main reasons they don't get as much traction with the community and with the media, said executive director Alissa Watt.
The group will work as intermediaries for family members who aren't comfortable talking to police, Watt said.
"They may have run-ins with law enforcement in the past, so we want to make sure that we can be a liaison in that way also," Watt said. "We can take information, we don't care what your criminal history is, and then we can pass that on so there can be a formal investigation by police."
Tools such as DNA testing or artist renderings of unidentified remains are costly and often out of reach of the people "who need it most," she said.
The not-for-profit agency wants to get involved in policy development to ensure everyone, regardless of social status, can access all the necessary services, including investigations and search campaigns, she said.
A CBC News investigation recently revealed that the federal data base promised for missing persons in Canada is behind schedule and over budget.
Even when that data base is up and running, Watt said it won't provide the most effective means of helping connect the missing and the dead with their relatives.
For example, different police services in the country use different DNA tests, creating a barrier to a truly national DNA bank, she said.
"Things like getting facial reconstruction done [for unidentified remains], aren't in the mandate and it isn't going to be paid for by the government," Watt said. "Even though it's being heralded as something that can solve this problem, it's really going to fall short even when it's completed.