Maisy Odjick, 16, and Shannon Alexander, 17, are two of Canada’s 509 missing women who have yet to be accounted for but their families have not given up the fight.
When the girls went missing from Maniwaki, Quebec, right near their reserve of Kitigan Zibi, on September 5, 2008, a search party was organized. That was because the police believed they were runaways, despite the fact that both left without any identification, personal effects or cash.
Nine months later their families are still fighting to find their girls as Odjick’s family has finally managed to get a professional search team, Search and Rescue Global 1, to scour the area on May 2. It was Odjick and her family who acquired the assistance of the professional team and volunteers with search dogs instead of the local law enforcement.
“I feel great about this because it should have been done from the beginning and I have had my issues with that. I am just grateful that they are going to be coming down again to do the search,” said Laurie Odjick, Maisy’s mother.
Since the girls’ disappearance, Odjick has faced nothing but an uphill struggle to get the cases taken seriously and to get any kind of support. She has told the public via the media that on countless occasions she has had to plead with local police for any information. Odjick doesn’t understand why her daughter’s file was transferred to the local police on her reserve when Alexander’s file remained with the Sûreté du Québec which is in charge of policing Maniwaki. Both girls were last seen together there.
According to Odjick, about a month ago her daughter’s case was finally assigned a new investigator who was brought in by the police. Though she feels grateful about it, she feels like this is what should have happened back in September.
The only real communication she has had from her police force is an eight-page, double-spaced handwritten report that had no cover letter or signature. At that, Odjick said she had to beg the police to come into her home to search the computers for clues into where Maisy may have gone.
“We don’t know that they weren’t lured; they are two beautiful Native girls,” said Odjick.
What is more frustrating is to look at what has happened in other cases when children from other regions have gone missing. Odjick gave the example of Brandon Crisp, 15, who ran away after his parents took away his XBox.
Hundreds of police and volunteers went looking for Crisp who was found three weeks later only two kilometres from where his abandoned bicycle was found two weeks earlier.
“We sat around and watched how the police did their jobs when Brandon Crisp disappeared. This was not done for our girls. I don’t want to think about discrimination because I am not like that. I know it exists in the world but these people are here to protect us, white, black, Native, Hispanic. I believe that we should all be treated the same but this was a slap in the face,” said Odjick.
In recent months Odjick has been touring Canada to speak about her missing child with the Native Women’s Association of Canada’s Sisters in Spirit initiative. The goal is to draw attention to the injustices that occur when crimes happen against Aboriginal women or they go missing there are so many that are unaccounted for that Amnesty International and the United Nations have sanctioned Canada.
Still, as Odjick prepares herself for the search, gathering together volunteers and promoting the search so that others will join in, she has her reservations.
“I am not feeling good about the search. I know it has to be done but I have hope in my heart that they don’t find anything. I am just taking it day by day,” said Odjick.
Shannon Alexander is 5’9, has pierced ears and weighs about 145 pounds with brown eyes and short black hair.
Maisy Odjick is 5’9, and has brown eyes and hair and weighs 130 lbs. She has two piercing on her bottom lip and one on left nostril.
For more information go to: www.findmaisyandshannon.com