Jennifer Catcheway’s parents are desperate for closure in the case of their missing daughter. For the ninth summer in a row, they are searching a Manitoba First Nation in hope of finding her.
“We’re looking for bones. We’re looking for remains. Anything to bring Jennifer back here,” Jennifer’s mother Bernice Catcheway told CTV Winnipeg.
Jennifer vanished from Grand Rapids, Man. on her 18th birthday, June 19, 2008, while on her way to Portage la Prairie, Man.
With the help of volunteers, Bernice and Jennifer’s father, Wilfred Catcheway, have searched extensively through Duck Bay, Pine Creek, Riding Mountain National Park and Dakota Tipi First Nation.
In 2015, at least 100 people helped the Catcheways search Dakota Tipi First Nation for Jennifer’s body, but the massive search turned up empty.
This year they’re back because early on in their search, they were told Jennifer went to a party on Dakota Tipi First Nation.
“It boils down to Dakota Tipi First Nation and there are a lot of unanswered question and police need to act on it,” Wilfred told CTV Winnipeg.
RCMP ruled Jennifer’s death a homicide, even though her body has never been found.
“How can we move on?” said Bernice. “Someone out there knows where she is and I just want to find her.”
The RCMP said it evaluates all information provided and conducts investigative searches when warranted. The Mounties also said they’re in regular contact with the Catcheway family and are aware of Monday’s search.
This year the Catcheways are hoping a backhoe and a pair of dogs will give them the closure they need.
Long-time searchers are also hopeful it will finally be the year they find some answers.
“Hopefully it will be this year. I’m getting tired of spending my summer holidays looking for bodies,” said George Leonard, who’s been searching since 2008.
Jennifer Catcheway is one of at least 164 indigenous women who have been reported missing since 1980, according to 2014 RCMP figures. However, Canada’s minister for the status of women suggested the number of missing and murdered indigenous women could be as high as 4,000 in February, 2016.
The Catcheways plan on digging up the outskirts of Dakota Tipi First Nation for several more days.
“I can’t imagine not knowing where your child is and you just have to keep going until you can find them,” said search volunteer Tammie Miller.
With files from CTV Winnipeg’s Beth Macdonell