Sue Caribou still grieves for her niece, Tanya Nepinak.
“She used to call me ‘Auntie Mom,’ and we’d sing together,” Caribou recalled Saturday. “We used to sing Will the Circle Be Unbroken? And I’m going to sing it at the vigil (Sunday).”
Caribou is holding a vigil at Thunderbird House on Sunday at 4 p.m. for both Nepinak and Skye Bighetty, another niece, who was murdered when she was eight years old,
“I’m honouring both my nieces,” Caribou said. “There was a vigil for Skye on the reserve (Pukatagawan) but a lot of her family lives in Winnipeg and couldn’t make it to the reserve. She was the baby of my baby brother, Ovid, and he died of a heartache five months after she was killed. I haven’t even grieved for my brother yet.”
Skye was killed by her older brother two years ago. Her brother was deemed to be mentally ill and not criminally responsible.
But Caribou remains frustrated with the lack of information about Nepinak, who has been missing for four years. She was once believed to be a victim of serial killer Shawn Lamb, but he has denied it, Caribou said.
“My family was devastated when Sean Lamb got paid by the police,” she said. “They should be paying for these vigils.”
Police paid Lamb for information before he was sentenced to 20 years for murdering other women.
“The police don’t tell the family anything. They don’t contact the family to say where they’re searching. It’s very hard for our family without having any closure … I sometimes hope and pray she’s still alive.”
Nepinak’s body has never been found.
Police actually started searching for Nepinak’s remains at the Brady Landfill, but called it off on the second day.
“That would have been Tanya’s birthday,” Caribou said.
Caribou also wondered why families with missing women are left in the dark whenever they find a body.
“Police should phone those families to say the bodies aren’t theirs,” she said. “Families have a lot of anxiety whenever this happens. I know what the families go through. It’s very hard.”