More cases added in year since CBC News launched Unresolved: Case Closed or Murder?

In the year since CBC News launched Unresolved: Case Closed or Murder? — which highlighted dozens of MMIWG cases in which families dispute "no foul play" — more cases have been added to our national database.

306 unsolved cases currently in CBC's database of MMIWG cases

CBC News investigated 34 cases that authorities deemed "no foul play" and found instances of suspicious circumstances and unexplained injuries (CBC)

It's been one year since CBC News launched Unresolved: Case Closed or Murder?, which highlighted dozens of cases in which family members of Indigenous women and girls said their loved ones had died from homicide, but authorities ruled that their deaths were not due to foul play.

Launched in June 2016, the Unresolved project added 32 cases from across Canada to CBC's existing database.

More cases have since been added — including four this week — bringing the current total number of unsolved cases in CBC's database to 306.

More unresolved cases

One of the newly added cases involves Sharon Abraham, 39, a mother of five originally from the Sagkeeng First Nation, a community of roughly 4,000 people located 100 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

Abraham is still missed deeply by her family members.

Myrna Abraham, younger sister of Sharon Abraham, says she always felt protected by her older sister. (Submitted photo)
Myrna Abraham, 48, remembers growing up with her older sister and always feeling protected.

"She always protected me," said Myrna. "She told me my birth date. She was the only person in my life that ever gave me a birthday gift."

In January 2004, Sharon Abraham was reported missing and in November of that year, her DNA was found on Robert Pickton's farm.

Pickton was a notorious serial killer from Port Coquitlam, B.C., who was sentenced to life in prison after being convicted of six counts of second-degree murder in late 2007. Charges in 20 other cases were stayed. The remains of 33 women were found on his farm, including Abraham, but charges were never laid in her case.

Sharon Abraham's case was one of six in which Crown prosecutors did not lay any charges against Robert Pickton, even though investigators found her fingernail on his farm property in B.C. (Isabel Fontaine)

Abraham's story was told by CBC News as part of Stolen Sisters, an in-depth look at five untold stories of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls from the Sagkeeng First Nation.

Four of the five cases were added to the database, including Abraham's.

CBC's database now includes 15 cases from Sagkeeng — a mix of unsolved and resolved cases — making it the community with the highest number of cases in the database.

A red dress hangs from a tree at the Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Manitoba has 2nd-highest number of unsolved cases

Of all the cases in the MMIWG database now, Manitoba has the second-highest number of unsolved cases in Canada, sitting at 64 cases compared to 46 cases in the spring of 2015.

"Unfortunately I'm not surprised, but I am definitely concerned and disappointed, because we should be seeing the reverse, and we're not and that's a huge concern," said Grand Chief Sheila North Wilson of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political organization representing 30 Cree, Oji-Cree and Dene communities in the province.

British Columbia continues to be the province with the the highest number of cases, with 75 currently in the database — up from 65 cases in 2015.

Marilyn Courchene stands next to a mural depicting Glenda Morrisseau, a 19-year-old woman from the Sagkeeng First Nation who was found dead in 1991. Morrisseau's case is included in CBC's MMIWG database. (Facebook)

More work needs to be done

Marilyn Courchene, a councillor at the Sagkeeng First Nation, says more work needs to be done to raise awareness of the history of Indigenous people, so people can understand the root causes of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

"I know it's starting in some of the schools, but it has to be done with the Winnipeg police, all these Crown corporations need to learn these things, [too]," said Courchene.

She would also like to see this work carried into hospitals, detox centres and child and family agencies.

"They [Canadians] got to start learning about what we went through, what the people went through in Canada," she said. "It's a national disgrace."