Happy Charles’ family calls for missing persons office to support families | Globalnews.ca

Happy Charles went missing in Prince AlbertSask., on April 3, 2017, and her family is calling for a missing persons office separate from police services.

Charles’ mother, Regina Poitras, said the office should be separate because some people might want to come forward but fear the police.

Click to play video: 'Billboard of missing woman Happy Charles unveiled in Prince Albert, Sask.'

Billboard of missing woman Happy Charles unveiled in Prince Albert, Sask.

“We believe this office must be separate from the policing agencies and the band so that they may do their tasks without interference,” Poitras said.

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Carson Poitras, Charles’ stepfather, said they continue to search for her and won’t give up.

“We’ve combed Prince Albert pretty much from one end to the other, and then some,” Carson said.

He said communication with police has been good, but noted that some families who have members missing don’t have that.

Carson gave an example of one person learning about things in their missing persons’ case from a news organization.

“The policing services across the board need to communicate better.”

He said information is crucial, adding that they had a situation where human remains were found near Prince Albert, and they wondered whether that was their daughter or not.

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Carson said since then, police let them know ahead of time when remains are found.

“They phone us and make sure that we know that those remains were found, but they’re probably not our daughter. And that’s crucial, because we’re already on a roller-coaster.”

Carson said he’d like to see the office located in Prince Albert, but noted more funding and manpower was needed for the community due to the high crime rate in the area.

Regina said she wanted the office to be a first point of contact when a person goes missing.

“When it comes to an Indigenous person going missing, many policing units often tend to have a deaf ear to the request,” Regina said.

Regina added that this office would also work as a liaison between the family and the police.

Click to play video: 'MMIWG2S+ Walk for Justice'

MMIWG2S+ Walk for Justice

Prince Albert Police Service (PAPS) investigators are still actively investigating Charles’ file and have interviewed a number of witnesses in relation to her disappearance. They said there is surveillance footage of Charles at Prince Albert Collegiate Institute around midnight on April 3, 2017, and believe this is the last time anyone saw her.

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Police say Happy was born March 22, 1975. She has brown eyes and black hair and a scar on her left cheek. She has a tattoo of a rose on her right hand.

PAPS Chief Jonathan Bergen said they do receive federal funding for a missing person liaison, but said much more could be done with the idea of having a separate missing persons office.

PAPS Sgt. Kathy Edwardsen said they’ve spoken to many people and have reviewed hours of surveillance footage in Charles’ case, adding that Charles’ family has been helpful in trying to get the message out.

“We need to find closure so they can finally have peace,” Edwardsen said.

Edwardsen said an organization like a missing persons office could be helpful, and that it could be a good alternative.

— with files from Jeanelle Mandes

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