Every time Evelyn Chartrand looks out her front window, she sees a red dress waving in the wind. That dress is a reminder that her daughter, Lorlene Bone, is still missing.
“Every day, I think about her,” Chartrand told CBC News from her home in Swan River, Man., a town near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border.
This week marks five years since anyone has seen or heard from Bone. She was last seen while visiting friends in Sapotaweyak Cree Nation, about 90 kilometres north of Swan River, on Feb. 29, 2016.
The mother of four would now be 36 years old. Chartrand said her daughter liked to joke and laugh, and had a bubbly personality. She liked taking her kids to powwows and even danced at them as a young girl.
One of Bone’s daughters had a baby in the last year, Chartrand said.
“She would have been a grandma.”
Lorlene’s final days
Chartrand said she and the RCMP have been able to piece together her daughter’s final days.
On Feb. 25, 2016, Bone was in Wuskwi Sipihk First Nation, about 30 kilometres south of Sapotaweyak, where she lived.
She spent time in Swan River and Sapotaweyak on Feb. 26 and on either the 27th or 28th, according to RCMP.
“She texted two nights [before she disappeared] and that was it,” said Chartrand.
“When she went missing, we were waiting for her to come home,” she said, adding her daughter frequently phoned home to check in.
Chartrand has devoted much of her time over the last five years to trying to find her daughter. She has accepted that Bone is likely dead, and is now focused on finding her body.
Her family has spent countless hours searching in the woods surrounding Sapotaweyak. Chartrand said her family has paid close attention to a location within the First Nation called Beardy’s Point.
RCMP searched the area again last year to no avail, she said.
Chartrand said locals have told her that her daughter lies somewhere in that area. She believes there are people who know something that might help find Bone but aren’t speaking up.
“A lot of people don’t want to talk. They don’t want to say anything. I keep asking why,” Chartrand said.
“The only thing that goes through my mind — what are they hiding? Why are they hiding?”
Investigation ongoing: RCMP
RCMP say the investigation into Bone’s disappearance is continuing.
“As this is an ongoing investigation, we cannot provide too many specifics as to what we have done, what leads we have followed, or who we have spoken to so that we can protect the integrity of the investigation,” spokesperson Tara Seel told CBC in an email.
“I can say there have been leads, and we have followed and continue to follow them.”
The RCMP are urging anyone with information regarding Bone’s whereabouts to contact Swan River RCMP at 204-734-4686, or call Manitoba Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Bone is described as approximately five feet five inches tall and 155 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair. She was known to often dye her hair red or blond.
For now, Chartrand says she is coming to terms with her daughter’s disappearance, and has her good days and her bad days.
“I have all of her pictures hanging,” she said. “I even hung a red dress outside in front of my yard here with her pictures on them.
“I have been coping … up and down, thinking about her. I am doing OK. But at night I get lonely.”
She’s been trying to get the word out about her daughter. The family has also hung posters, and have arranged rocks along Highway 10 at Wuskwi Sipihk to spell out the message, “Lorlene Bone Come Home.”
Chartrand is now fundraising to erect a large billboard near Sapotaweyak. An awareness walk is also being planned for the spring.
“Give me my girl back,” she says to anyone who may have information that could help find Bone. “Lay her to rest. Bring her home. Tell me where she is.”
She will keep the dress outside her home as a reminder of the loss her family still lives with and hopes to one day have a place to light candles in her honour.
“I want her to come home,” she said. “I want her to rest in peace.”