Indigenous

Jennifer Catcheway's family thanks supporters as winter puts end to search for missing woman

"I love you, my girl." That's the last thing Bernice Catcheway says in a three minute video she posted to Facebook Wednesday afternoon, as Manitoba's first blast of winter put an end to her family's on-going search this year for their daughter.

'I just shared my heart,' says Bernice Catcheway, thanking searchers who've supported her family

Bernice Catcheway shares both thanks and gratitude with volunteers who continue to help the family and search for Jennifer. 3:20

"I love you, my girl."

That's the last thing Bernice Catcheway says in a three minute video she posted to Facebook Wednesday afternoon, as Manitoba's first blast of winter put an end to her family's on-going search this year for their daughter. 

For seven and a half years Catcheway and her husband Wilfred Catcheway have been searching for their daughter, Jennifer, without finding the answers about what happened to her.

The cell phone recording starts off with a thank you to volunteers who've been helping her family search all summer long.

"I am all alone here in the marsh. I am kind of sad we are coming to end for another … another season," Catcheway said.

Jennifer went missing on June 19, 2008, her 18th birthday. RCMP traced her last call to Grand Rapids, Man., 365 kilometres north of Winnipeg.
Jennifer Leigh Catcheway went missing on June 19, 2008. RCMP are investigating her case as a homicide. (Manitoba Integrated Task Force)

Over the years both the family and RCMP have received tips that Catcheway was last seen at a party on the Dakota Tipi First Nation, just outside of Portage La Prairie, Man., where the family lives.

RCMP are investigating her disappearance as a homicide and believe her body is somewhere between Grand Rapids and Portage La Prairie.

Instead of going on summer vacations, the family searches bushes, marshes and open fields. They've come across bones on two separate occasions, only to learn the bones weren't human. For the past month, the Catcheway family have focused their search inside Dakota Tipi First Nation.

"This is the saddest part of searching, [it's] going home, going home empty handed. But we gave our best. We did our best, all summer long."

"I know my husband is tired. He was so excited this morning when we got up. He was so sure today we were going to find her," Catcheway says in her video.

Catcheway says she made the video because she knew there would be snow on the ground the following day.

"I just shared my heart," Bernice said over the phone from home in Portage La Prairie.  
This 2007 video from the Catcheway family shows Wilfred opening a present from Jennifer. 0:44

"I wanted to thank the searchers, you know, all those that supported us. And I thought, how am I going to do that and the best way was to make it myself," she said about the video.

"I was feeling hurt, and sad and all those emotions."

Catcheway says she was surprised to see the video was shared over 600 times in less than 24 hours.

"But I am glad ... because somebody out there knows where Jennifer is. Hopefully they will grow a heart," she said.

Two weeks ago, Catcheway also shared another video. It was the last Christmas the family spent together. The recording from 2007 shows Wilfred opening a Christmas present.

"Not a big wallet again," he says, laughing. Jennifer can be heard in the background teasing her father back. That's when Jennifer comes into view and says, "Merry Christmas. Happy New Year."

Catcheway posts photos and stories of her daughter often. However, this is the first time she's shared any home videos so publicly. 

Jennifer is one of 241 missing or murdered women highlighted in CBC's database of unsolved cases. Her family has also been vocal about wanting a national public inquiry.

About the Author

Tiar Wilson was raised in Opaskwayak Cree Nation, Manitoba. She's reported for APTN National News, CBC Winnipeg, and CBC North. Tiar is also involved with CBC's database of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls and continues to share the stories of these women, their families and communities. She's currently reporting for CBC Aboriginal. @yourpaltiar.