Singing for Amy: Voices of the North singer performs for lost sister

Voices of the North singer Chelsie Young holds up a photo of her sister, Amy Boskoyous, whom she will be singing in honour of this week. (Jessica Gies/Herald contributor)

By Jessica Gies

Herald Contributor

A showcase of musical talent this week in Prince Albert is proving to be a chance for Chelsie Young’s voice to be heard in more way than one.

The 27-year-old singer-songwriter is joining Voices of the North this Thursday through Saturday, singing for her sister Amy Boskoyous, who went missing in Alberta last fall, her body found in December beside a northern Alberta road.

“It’s like I’m still fighting for her,” Young said of the purpose behind her performances this week. “I want people to know and hear her story too.”

Boskoyous, who was 22 when she died, was last seen alive on Nov. 25 at Sandy Lake, Alta., north of Edmonton. Three days went by before Young learned of her sister’s disappearance.

“I immediately started posting pictures,” Young said, adding that it didn’t take long for her sister’s image to be shared worldwide on social media. Meanwhile, police failed to turn up any leads on Boskoyous’s whereabouts. Taking matters into their own hands, Boskoyous’s family began what would become an exhausting 10-day search to find her. Missing persons posters were distributed in surrounding communities, a search party was organized, and family drove up and down the road near Sandy Lake for days before Boskoyous was found.

Still seeking justice for her sister, Young is at the Voices of the North to pay tribute and to create awareness.

“If they’re giving me a stage and a purpose – to sing for my sister – I’m willing to do that.”

It wasn’t easy for Young to make it to the show. Still in deep grief and recovering from the financial impact of abandoning work to search for her sister, Young, now pregnant with her second child, needed help.

Voices of the North organizer Sheryl Kimbley put out a social media plea asking for support for the performer. Leading up to the event, Kimbley saw contact between the Voices of the North and Young dwindle as the tragedy of her sister’s disappearance became overwhelming.

“She gave up,” Kimbley said, pointing to the mountain of challenges Young faced.

Within a day of asking for help, $600 was raised and delivered to Young to help cover the cost of her travel. As Kimbley explained, applying such support is a paramount principle behind those at the Voices of the North.

“When one of us fall, we all fall,” Kimbley said of the arts community in Prince Albert. “There’s no division. Nobody’s looking at aboriginal or non-aboriginal. They’re just looking at woman and human.”

The support, and the drive to see justice done for her sister, propelled Young to make good on her commitment to the showcase. Braving through her hurdles, Young arrived early Wednesday morning in Prince Albert. She began rehearsing for the show that evening, nursing a sore throat in between.

One of the songs Young plans to perform is Tell Me I Was Dreaming, by Travis Tritt. Young connected to lyrics: “I’m in a state of confusion, I hope things aren’t what they seem, If this is really happening, Just let me go back to dream, You’re home.” Young has changed some of the lyrics in her performance to reflect not a lost lover, but a loved one gone, which she said “makes all the difference.”

A second selection, I’m Not Ready to Make Nice, speaks to her anger at a justice system that she says has left her sister’s case neglected.

Young shared that music was one of the things she had in common with her sister.

“She had a beautiful voice.”

The Voices of the North performances run Thursday through Saturday at 6:30 p.m.with an additional show at 10:30 on Friday, held at the Prince Albert’s exhibition centre.