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A Letter from Kitigan Zibi

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May 30, 2009

A Letter from Kitigan Zibi

Mother addresses the public on police negligence in missing daughter's case

by Laurie Odjick

Maisy Odjick, left, and Shannon Alexander.

March 8, 2009

This letter was released to supporters on May 2, 2009 the date of the last organized ground search for Maisy Odjick and Shannon Alexander. Recipients of the letter have been encouraged to send it to their MPs.

To whom it may concern:

I write this letter to you as a concerned mother and citizen. I would like to bring to your attention several issues concerning the disappearance of my daughter, Maisy Odjick, and the manner in which the Kitigan Zibi Police Services (KZPS) and the Surete du Quebec (SQ) have handled this case. Since my daughter's disappearance, on September 6, 2008, to the present day, very little to nil support or communication has been provided by these police services. From the onset this lack has created a long, frustrating and exhausting six months for me and my family.

My 16-year-old daughter was not alone when she disappeared. She and her friend, Shannon Alexander (17 years old) were together. I am deeply concerned for Shannon's whereabouts, but out of respect for Shannon's father and family, I cannot nor am I speaking for her in this letter.

I am of the position that government authorities, agencies and the public need to be informed of the incompetent, unprofessional, uncooperative and unaccountable behaviour of police services, in particular, the KZPS. I, as a community member of the Kitigan Zibi Anishnabeg (KZA), am also unsatisfied with the Chief and Council's lack of leadership in directing concrete action and demanding accountability from the police. As you may appreciate, the disappearance of your child speaks volumes of worries, immense feelings of loss, isolation, heartache, mental anguish, and extreme emotional pain. I live with these emotions every minute of each day.

I demand my right to services, justice and support in locating my daughter. I have been exercising my rights all along. However, I feel as though I do not have the right to exercise my right to information concerning my minor daughter. For instance, when I called the SQ to speak to a police officer investigating the Shannon Alexander case, I was told to speak to the KZPS because the SQ did not have my file, and I am not related to Shannon. I understand the nature of confidentiality, however, where else can I turn for police information when in fact I receive no information from the KZPS? And, when I do receive any information from them, it is very skeletal and unprofessional in nature.

Furthermore, the police only provided information after much persistence on my part. My demand for reports is a very time consuming and overwhelming task. For example, since September 2008, I have received only one report. It took me two months, from December 2008 to February 2009, of constant requests to the KZA Chief and Council, and only recently have I received a report. This report is eight double-spaced pages in length with no letterhead or signature. It should be noted that in reading the report, I am left with the feeling that I did the police's job because they report on leads and sources that I provided to them. In the end, there is nothing substantial. Once again, I am left with many more questions, uncertainty and emptiness.

It must be noted that at the onset of Maisy and Shannon's disappearance, no thorough ground search or proper investigation was conducted. At this point, any evidence collected in September 2008 is damaged because the police who collected the evidence did not possess the expertise to do so. Furthermore, the families were not given any information on the results of evidence collected.

Very recently, a media source informed me that the SQ has evidence that indicates that the girls ran away. If this is true, why has not the KZPS or the band council informed me of this? If this is true, then is the file closed? If this is true, does this resolve my daughter's disappearance? What evidence was used to make this conclusion? What resources will be made available to find my daughter?

Since my daughter's disappearance, my inquiries and demands have not been answered in a respectful and satisfactory manner. I have been asking for an answer to two very simple but monumental questions: Why was my daughter's file transferred to the KZPS by the SQ? Who gave this order? I cannot help but feel that there is a cover up here.

I cannot understand why this occurred considering that Maisy was not on the reserve when she disappeared. On one hand, an argument can be made that the decision was made because of a jurisdictional issue. On the other hand, in a legal context, wherever the harm occurred determines who will deal with the matter. In my daughter's case, her disappearance is the harm, and the disappearance happened while she was off the reserve. Therefore, the SQ is the proper police authority to conduct the investigation and handle the case. I do not wish for my daughter to become a jurisdictional issue, nor to be immediately ruled as a 'runaway' teen. These are lame excuses used to negate the seriousness of the situation, to deny support and resources, to default on action, to discriminate and against me and my daughter, to refuse responsibility. This is unacceptable to me as a human being, a mother, a member of the community, and a citizen of society.

In essence, I feel that both the KZPS and KZA have applied the standard practice of blaming the victim. I am the victim, but to these entities, it is my fault that Maisy ran away; it is my fault that she disappeared; it is my fault that I waited too long to inform the police; it is my fault that I do not contact the police regularly by way of phone calls or station visits.

To write my daughter off as a 'runaway' or to treat her as promiscuous, and to treat me as the party at fault is abominable. I feel that justice is denied. A young girl is missing. My daughter deserves the same support and justice as any other missing person gets, for instance: Brendan Crisp, Ardeth Woods, Jennifer Teague.

It does not make sense that the KZPS and the KZA community leaders invested so much time, financial resources and media attention to locate a missing lion cub, but nothing is invested for our missing young girls. How much money was spent on finding Boomer, the baby lion? Maisy and Shannon are community members; they are also citizens of society and they deserve attention.

My daughter's return home or, the very least, to know what happened to her are my main priorities and it is with urgency that I call upon your office to assist me in acquiring from the SQ, KZPS and the KZA Chief and Council prompt, professional and unequivocal answers to all my inquiries; to obtain a full and proper investigation of Maisy's disappearance; and for the KZPS and KZA Chief and Council to be held accountable to me, my family and to the people for their inability to demonstrate due diligence and transparency with my daughter's case.

Should you like to discuss the contents of my letter, please do not hesitate to contact me at justiceformissing [at] gmail.com. I look forward to hearing from your office concerning the issues I raised in this letter. I thank you for your attention and kind consideration.

Sincerely,

Laurie Odjick

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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