As It Happens

Shelly Tannis Dene (Last seen in 2013)

Candice L’hommecourt can’t forget the last words her sister Shelly Dene said to her: “Don’t ever say goodbye.” Those prophetic last words have fuelled her search to find out why her sister disappeared in Edmonton in the summer of 2013.
CBC Radio One's "As It Happens" is telling the stories of Canada's murdered and missing indigenous women and girls. Host Carol Off interviews Candice L'hommecourt, whose older sister Shelly Dene went missing in 2013. 7:56

Candice L'hommecourt can't forget the last words her sister Shelly Dene said to her: "Don't ever say goodbye."

Those prophetic last words have fuelled her search to find out why her sister disappeared in Edmonton in the summer of 2013.

Ever since her sister vanished without a trace in the summer of 2013, Candice L’Hommecourt has been fighting to learn the truth about her disappearance. (CBC)

"At the end of August is when I received the last text from her," L'hommecourt tells As It Happens co-host Carol Off. "I contacted my grandmother after that. She said… Shelly was gone [and that] she was talking about a trip up to the Yukon."

L'hommecourt tried to contact her sister to no avail.

"I tried connecting with her between the months of August and November. Texting her, calling her. Her phone was still connected. It would still ring and my texts would still go through up until November. Then, I woke up one morning and I called her and her phone was disconnected. At that time, I automatically knew that something was wrong because Shelly always paid her bills. She always had her phone."

In November, she reached out to family and Dene's friends -- and none of them had seen her.

"[Until then], I thought Shelley was on one of her adventures. She'd always go out and travel and stuff."

      1 of 0

      She then went to the Edmonton Police to file a missing person's report. L'hommecourt describes her experience with the police as "frustrating" and she believes that they were reluctant to work on the case because Dene was First Nations and that her lifestyle was "high risk."

      "[Police] label every First Nations person that is missing or murdered [as having] a high-risk lifestyle or a high-risk profile," she says. "They keep blaming the victim for what has happened to them. They don't blame society and what's wrong with society… these things shouldn't be happening to innocent people, no matter what type of lifestyle they live."

      Dene was battling alcohol and drug addiction before she disappeared.

      L'hommecourt reported to the police that Dene was staying with her grandmother, and a witness saw a man taking suitcases out of her apartment around the time she went missing.
      Edmonton Police Service have told CBC News that they followed up on that lead, and others, but have not yet produced any new information.

      "I have my days where I consider [Shelly] to be my angel and she's watching over me," she says. "Then, some days I think maybe she's just travelled and maybe she's somewhere on an island, and doesn't want to talk to any of us."

      "I still keep my faith and I still keep my hope alive for Shelly -- because I can't just give up, right? I can't do that. I have to know what's happened to my sister… No matter the outcome of Shelly's disappearance, I will always know that I have never given up."