Lilly Southwind had a gut feeling not to hand over the pictures of her mom to police.
Viola Panacheese had been missing for three days when she reported her missing 25 years ago to the Ontario Provincial Police in Sioux Lookout, Ont.
“I gave them reluctantly, cause they didn’t have a current picture of her to post, to share in hopes of finding her,” Lilly said at Day 2 of the Thunder Bay public hearings of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
“I told them I want them back right away.”
Years passed and Viola is still missing. So are the photos.
Lilly kept on police to return the photos and would be shocked when she was finally told what happened to them.
“He said, ‘we don’t have your mothers pictures. We don’t have them. Her file was lost,'” said Lilly.
She was told it was possible the file ended up in the “burn pile” when the detachment moved into a new building.
“I just sat there, I was in shock. My first thought was so when was it lost? How long has it been lost? All that time when things could’ve been done or people could’ve been interviewed again, all that time is gone,” said Lilly.
Lilly told the inquiry more needs to be done to help families of missing persons.
“I don’t want any family to ever go through that frustration, that angry, that anguish. I feel my family was wronged,” she said.