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Mother leads march for the missing

Canadian Press

Saturday, July 23, 2005

SASKATOON (CP) -- A grieving mother led a caravan of marchers Friday to remember the hundreds of native women who've been murdered or gone missing since 1985.

One of them is her daughter, Daleen Kay (Muskego) Bosse.

"We're still waiting for her to come home," said Pauline Muskego, fighting tears.

"And we're still believing that she will come home."

Daleen, then 26, was last seen on May 18, 2004 in Saskatoon.

She was close to her daughter Faith, now four, a curly-haired youngster who walked amongst the marchers as they arrived from the Onion Lake First Nation, 350 kilometres north of Saskatoon.

About 40 members of the Cree community left their home five days earlier. They took turns running or walking the distance over rural Saskatchewan roads that seem to stretch to the horizon.

Daleen had started a photography course just before she vanished after going out with some friends. She has not called home since.

She had also recently taken a teacher training course.

Her mother says there was no hint that her daughter would simply walk away from her life.

A $5,000 reward is offered for any information about the young mother, who is approximately five-foot-five and weighed 170 pounds when she disappeared. She wears glasses or contact lenses.

Daleen is just one of about 500 women who have disappeared or been murdered in the last 20 years, says Beverley Jacobs.

That figure is an estimate based on preliminary research and anecdotal evidence, said the president of the Native Women's Association of Canada. She suspects the total is higher.

Most Canadians don't realize the seriousness of the issue, Jacobs said.

Ottawa recently agreed to give her group $5 million over five years to gather much-needed information and statistics. That amount is far less than the $10 million requested over two years.

Jacobs is also disappointed that Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan's department will not be involved, she said.

A report by Amnesty International last fall concluded that police investigations into missing native women are too often "coloured" by racism.

Spokesmen for the RCMP and local forces have denied the claim, saying they bring the same energy to each investigation.

But police in Vancouver have been repeatedly criticized for their handling of the Robert Pickton probe in the late 1990s. He now faces 27 murder charges in connection with the disappearances of 60 women from the drug-plagued Downtown Eastside. At least 16 of the missing women are believed to be aboriginal.

Media outlets also tend to be slower to respond, says Amnesty.

It cites how the disappearance of five native women along a lonely stretch of B.C. highway between Prince Rupert and Prince George barely caused a media ripple. Alberta Williams, Delphine Nikal, Ramona Wilson, Roxanne Thiara and Lana Derrick all vanished between 1988 and 1995 along what is now known as the Highway of Tears.

Yet, in June 2002, the disappearance of a non-native woman named Nicole Hoar was reported across Canada.

Sam Thompson, 21, joined the five-day walk from Onion Lake to Saskatoon to support Pauline Muskego and her husband, Herb.

Though Daleen has been missing for more than a year, her story is barely known outside Saskatchewan.

Thompson says the social reaction is different when an aboriginal woman disappears.

"It's like we're at the gutter, the very bottom -- lower than dirt.

"People don't really care about native people. Everyone thinks everyone has alcohol problems, drug problems. I'm not like that.

"We're human beings. We've got to be treated equally."

 The Leader-Post (Regina) 2005

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Missing Women Tip Line: 1-877-687-3377

Updated: August 21, 2016