Despite frigid temperatures and a wind chill making it feel more like -24C, the community came together Friday night for a candlelight vigil at North Battleford Library Park to raise awareness for missing woman Ashley Morin.
Morin's sister Janine said during the vigil that not a day that goes by that she won't stop looking for Ashley, or ever give up.
"She is and always will be my baby sister," Janine said, with tears in her eyes. "A light like yours can't go out. Even though I can't see you when I look up at the twinkling stars, I know you are still shining somewhere out there."
Among some of the speakers during the vigil were former city councillor Ray Fox, North Battleford Coun. Kent Lindgren, and a representative from Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations. A drum group performed at the event, which was followed by a round dance.
Family spokesperson Krista Fox hopes the vigil reminds the community that it is now six months since Morin was last seen or heard from.
"We want to keep her name and her face out there," she said. Fox said the vigil would help "show the family that there is support out there and that we do love and care, and are hurting with them."
She said the family and supporters continue to conduct searches whenever they receive a tip. Fox added the hardest part is to complete a day of searching and not come away with any answers. "We go out with that spunk, ready to find her and bring her home. But, when it's dark and we can no longer search, once again we are defeated because we still have not been successful in bringing Ashley home."
Artist Suzette Starr presented Morin's mother Diane with a painting during the vigil as a gift of support to the family.
The painting, depicting a woman walking into the woods alone, represents all missing and murdered Indigenous women, Starr said, who is from Little Pine First Nation. "My hope is that it brings the family some comfort. It's also to bring more awareness of all the missing and murdered women we do have."
Morin's uncle Randy Bird said the family continues to struggle, not knowing where Morin is.
"It's always at the back of your mind that someone you love is missing," he said. "It's hard. Over the six months, we really haven't gotten anywhere, other than the opportunities to search when people give us some kind of tip. We take advantage of that, hoping it brings something, and yet fearing finding something.
Bird said this type of community gathering is not the first, and won't be the last.
"We're going to hear more of this if we don't start working together as a community," he said.
The 31-year-old was reported missing on July 10, 2018. Her disappearance is considered suspicious, and the RCMP's Major Crime Unit North has been assisting in the investigation.
On Twitter: @battlefordsNOW
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