Chief Bans Parents Of Missing Daughter From Digging On Reserve

Bernice Catcheway (Jennifer's mother) & Wilfred Catcheway (Jennifer's father) Photo:

Bernice Catcheway (Jennifer’s mother) & Wilfred Catcheway (Jennifer’s father) Photo:

The Canadian Press

Animosity is brewing in Manitoba between a mother and father desperate for clues into the disappearance of their missing daughter, and a First Nations chief who says band members have grown tired of searchers digging holes on their reserve.

Bernice Catcheway, whose daughter, Jennifer, disappeared seven years ago, says she, her husband and other searchers are now barred from entering the Dakota Tipi reserve near Portage la Prairie after their latest search of the community’s dump and other areas last week.

The searchers brought a backhoe, and while they didn’t find any physical evidence, Catcheway says a resident gave them another tip.

“It’s important we go back there, but obviously we can’t,” said Catcheway, speaking from her home in Portage la Prairie.

“It is not a very big reserve but there (are) places we needed to get into and we still need to get into.”

It’s not the first time the searchers have been to Dakota Tipi, following up on a tip Catcheway may have gone to a party in the community before her disappearance.

Catcheway was 18 in June 2008 when she vanished from Grand Rapids while on her way to Portage la Prairie.

Chief David L. Pashe says his community initially welcomed the searchers when they first came to the reserve several years ago. He said they offered the visitors the use of their community centre and cooked food for them. In the following years, they donated money.

But Pashe says they’ve been digging holes, knocking down trees with their equipment and searching in places outside of the areas they said they’d be in, including near a cemetery.

He says they can come back, but if they do, they should bring the RCMP.

“I’d be the first one to grab a shovel if they had a good, credible witness. So I said the next time you come here, I want you to bring the RCMP and get the RCMP to give me a search warrant,” Pashe said Sunday.

RCMP Sgt. Bert Paquet said in an email that there was insufficient information to request a warrant to search the landfill or other areas where the searchers looked last week. He says police recommended the family ask for permission to search themselves, which they did and subsequently received.

“This case is actively investigated and has been since it was first reported to us. Outstanding tasks are being assigned and worked on as we speak. In the case of searches like this one, the family will often obtain consent to search or dig when we, the police, would not have enough grounds to obtain the required legal authorization to do so,” Paquet said in a statement released to media on Friday.

“Having said that, we do support any initiative that might potentially advance an investigation,” he adds, noting that police hope the renewed search and public attention will prompt people with information to come forward.

Catcheway says her family never went to police with the tip that led them to the dump. She said they followed it up themselves.

“I don’t where the police are at. I don’t know what they’re doing, but as far as my husband I are concerned and my children, we go in and wherever we can and do whatever we need to do,” Catcheway said.

Catcheway said the latest tipster has contacted police and she hopes to hear more soon. In the meantime, she believes Pashe will have a change of heart.

“Not everybody agrees with the chief banning us from there. We have a lot of supporters there, and throughout Canada,” she said.

Pashe says it’s a difficult situation.

“I sympathize. I’m sure if I had a son or daughter who disappeared, I’d search forever. But I said I have to look after 250 people,” he said.

Source: Bay Today


7 thoughts on “Chief Bans Parents Of Missing Daughter From Digging On Reserve

  1. open your land to these hard working parents. Our land, mother earth will always find its way to regenerate itself. tree will grow back, grass will grow taller, your life will be filled with joy and


  2. Maybe they are hiding something or someone. If they had nothing to hide they would allow the search.

    I’m sure if it was his kid he wouldn’t ban anything.


  3. I can understand the desire to stop the digging up of numerous spots if they are not restoring the ground fairly well. With that being said – is there not a chance to take cadaver dogs or to use other forensic methods? By banning them from digging – it sends a message – whether intended or not – that this is not important. If they made a solid effort to facilitate their efforts instead – it sends the message – yes we want to help but do not tear up the land unnecessarily.


  4. please allow this mother to search for her daughter by any means possible please have a change of heart,, but i do understand you have to look after the rest of your people as well.


    • If this was your child you would do anything please have the heart too let them search there please From April Catcheway please have a heart


  5. Two ppl were involved on this incident. When things went wrong and Jennifer went missing the two involved were only gone twenty minutes to a half hour. One of them bragged and said they will never find her and buried under a Hugh rock pile. Now the rock piles I’ve seen are north of Grand rapids about 19 to 20 minutes drive. This incident I wanted to help and I still do because our woman are too close to families and don’t deserve to be humiliated and murdered. Please call me if you can1-306-930-1883 or 1-306-763-1208 ekosi


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