Woman with missing aunt, nephew tells inquiry family ‘forever changed’ by disappearances
Myrna Laplante wants her missing aunt and missing nephew to remain on people’s minds.
The Saskatoon woman shared the stories of her aunt Emily Osmond and nephew Cody Wolfe at the national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Saskatoon on Wednesday.
“It’s emotional. We know that Canada is watching,” Laplante told reporters after she testified. She said sharing her family’s truth in a legal environment at the inquiry is important.
“I feel an immense sense of relief. I’m relieved that that part is done, but our story still continues. She’s still missing.”
Osmond disappeared in 2007. She was 78 at the time and lived off the land in Raymore, Sask., north of the Kawacatoose First Nation, her niece told the inquiry.
Laplante said Osmond loved nature, music, her family and animals, and encouraged people to get an education, wear bright colours and celebrate who they are. She worked as a chef and had the opportunity to cook for high-profile customers across the country, according to Laplante.
RCMP searched for three days for Osmond before the family organized its own searches, Laplante said. Mounties quit the search after the first three days, but rejoined the efforts after the family organized an event.
Laplante said she thought searchers would find her aunt right away, but they never did.
She told the inquiry she believes the case involves foul play because Osmond was of sound mind and because her aunt, who had arthritis, wouldn’t have been able to walk far. Osmond’s cane, purse and her animals were all also left at the house.
“We don’t know where she is,” said Laplante, who noted in her testimony she didn’t hear from RCMP about the case for seven years, until after the inquiry stopped in Whitehorse in May. An officer called and said the case is still open, Laplante said.
Laplante’s nephew Cody Wolfe disappeared in 2011, four years after Osmond. Wolfe was 17 years old when he disappeared and Laplante says she has no idea what happened. She mentioned he was last known to be close to a slough near the Muskowekwan First Nation.
She told the inquiry both disappearances have taken a great toll — emotionally and financially — on the family. The family has spent hours searching and the search for Wolfe has totalled a cost of more than $100,000, which includes expenses not accrued by the family.
“This is our life now. This is the life we live. We try to have a happy family. We try to live a somewhat normal life. It’s really, really hard,” she said. “Our family has been forever changed by these events.”
The aim of the national inquiry is to shed light on the underlying factors that contribute to violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.
Laplante, who continues to ask for information about her missing relatives, said she encourages the community to “step up” and help families who have lost someone.