Monday marks six years since Happy Charles went missing in Prince Albert and her family is optimistic that 2023 will be the year that the mother of six will be found and brought home to her parents and children.
“We’re pretty confident that we’re going to find her this year,” said Charles’ father, Carson Poitras. “We’ve had some spiritual stuff happening at our house, signs that are showing us that possibly this is the year that we’ll find her. Different things that are going on too, with the leads we’re getting and the tips.”
The Charles family and members with the Prince Albert Police Service organized a walk Monday starting near the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute (PACI) to the Prince Albert Grand Council billboard across from Victoria Hospital on 10th Avenue West, to raise awareness for Charles’ case.
Happy Charles was 42 years old when she went missing on Monday, April 3, 2017. She was last seen before midnight on video surveillance footage taken close to PACI.
“From the first year to the sixth year, to date, the pain is not any less,” said Charles’ mother, Regina Poitras. “It’s like an open wound.”
Charles’ father said the last six years has been frustrating for the family.
“It’s like a roller coaster,” said Carson. “We get tips, we get things coming in and we think that we’re going to bring our daughter home and then they don’t pan out.”
Aleisha Charles, Happy’s oldest daughter, said she and her siblings were just starting to get to know their mother when she disappeared.
“When we were adopted by our grandparents, we were on this way of life, and she was with us. She was in the sweat lodge with us, she was always there when we were singing,” recalled Aleisha. “We were just learning what her life was like, what she went through growing up. How things happened [and] where she got to where she was before she went missing.”
Aleisha said the last words her mother said to her were “things are going to be better”.
“Maybe they were for her because she’s probably in the spirit world with some of her favourite people that passed on before her, but she left [behind] broken hearts,” said a tearful Aleisha. “We want to find her because these broken hearts aren’t healing because she’s not found.”
Fourteen-year-old Leito Morin was only eight years old when his mother disappeared in 2017. Monday’s awareness walk was the second one that Charles’ youngest son has participated in.
“It’s been really tough,” said Morin. “I don’t think there’s ever been a day without at least having her in the back of my mind.”
When asked if he had one thing he could say to his mother, Morin said he would tell her he loves her.
Joining Charles’ family at Monday’s walk was missing North Battleford woman Ashley Morin’s mother, Diane Morin, and close family friend, Krista Fox. Fox said she and Diane were there to show support for Happy’s family.
“We’ve become very connected as [families] of missing and murdered. Sometimes we feel like we got nobody and nobody is on this journey with us, then we run into people like the Charles family and her daughters and it gives us a sense of hope,” said Fox, who walked across Canada to bring awareness to missing and murdered Indigenous Women in 2022. “We’re out here and we’ll keep doing what we need to do until this genocide against our women stops.”
Sgt. Kathy Edwardsen with the Historical and Missing Persons section of the Prince Albert Police Service has been working on Happy Charles’ case for the last four years. She said police are still continuing to receive tips about Charles’ disappearance, some as recent as last week.
“These investigations are like one big puzzle and piece by piece we put it together,” said Edwardsen. “It could just be a couple of small pieces missing that we need just to figure out what happened, why it happened and who’s responsible. Every little piece of information, no matter how small, someone knows something, and they need to call us and let us know.”
She asked that if the person responsible for Charles’ disappearance is listening, to come forward and take responsibility.
“Of course, there’s consequences, but you know what? Everybody needs closure, including the person responsible for this,” added Edwardsen. “We can’t move forward until we have those answers.”
Happy Charles is 5’3” tall and 112 pounds, with brown eyes, black hair and a scar on her left check. She also has a tattoo of a rose on her right hand.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 306-953-4222 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS, or online at www.p3tips.com/248.