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Five years gone, but not forgotten

Five years gone, but not forgotten
Family members, friends and supporters of Happy Charles gather in a circle before the opening prayer on Sunday, April 3. -- Marjorie Roden/Daily Herald

Marjorie Roden

Special to the Herald

On April 3rd, 2017, a woman by the name of Happy Charles was last seen, just before midnight, on the security cameras in the parking lot of Prince Albert Collegiate Institute.

Five years to the day, friends, family members and supporters gathered at that same parking lot to keep her memory alive.

“It’s been challenging,” admits Regina Poitras, Happy’s mother. “Very challenging, but we’re still here, still hoping.”

Happy’s parents are both staying positive and optimistic as efforts to find their daughter continue, despite the five year lapse since she was last seen.

“As long as the tips keep coming in, it seems like a good thing,” Happy’s step-father Carson Poitras said prior to an opening prayer circle. “We still have hope that we can find her alive and bring her home.”

Sunday’s walk was held in co-operation with the Prince Albert Police Service. Police Chief Jonathan Bergen lead the group of more than 50 people, as well as about 8 vehicles, on a winding path through the City. The group walked from the PACI parking lot to the Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation urban reserve, stopping in front of the Prince Albert Grand Council office complex.

“Being out here, walking with the family, is an opportunity to reconnect and feel the emotion that they still carry in trying to find those answers,” Bergen said shortly before the walk.

“It keeps it real for (the police) as we recognize that we have to continue to look. We have to continue to search. We don’t just keep the file open, but actively work, to do everything we can to deliver that closure to the family.”

PAPS historical crimes investigator Kathy Edwardsen said police are in contact weekly with Happy’s family. Police will call to let them know if new information comes up, and the family will do the same with investigators.

She said it’s important to raise awareness about cases like Happy’s so residents realize the investigation is still underway.

“If people didn’t put any awareness out there, some might think that we’ve solved this case, and nobody would be asking questions and no one would be looking for the answers,” Edwardsen said. “We need that awareness out there. We need those billboards.”

“It’s actually the media that’s helping us get those tips that come in,” she added.

“Every time we have an event, someone comes with something new. These events stimulate tips that come in.”

Most tips come in via Crimestoppers. Anyone with information that could help re-unite Happy with her family can call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).