The father of a girl who disappeared 14 years ago at the age of five is still searching for answers.
“Just innocence that was robbed from her” was about as much as Troy Keepness could bring himself to say to reporters Thursday when asked what he remembers of Tamra.
Each year on July 5, the anniversary of her disappearance, volunteers, police officers and community members gather at the Core Community Park just blocks away from the Ottawa Street home where Tamra was last seen in the middle of the night.
Keepness said the annual barbecue is a good way to spread the word about his daughter. Ellen Keewatin, Keepness’s aunt, also pleaded for information Thursday on the girl she calls her granddaughter.
“Just to let people know that we’re still looking and that we’re still hoping that God will let her come home to us sometimes.”
As young families enjoyed the barbecue, and children close to Tamra’s age played nearby, Keewatin said she won’t think of Tamra only as a little girl in the past.
“She was only five when she went missing and she’s 19 now. She must be a beautiful young girl,” Keewatin said.
“We haven’t found anything of her remains, so I guess we’re — well, I am anyways — I’m holding on to hope that Tamra will be found soon.”
When asked about a class action lawsuit against the federal government on behalf of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and girls launched Thursday, Keewatin said she won’t hold her breath for action.
However, she said she does see the benefit in families coming together.
“There is common grounds there, and then I guess you get to understand that you’re not alone on this path that you’re walking on.” she said.
“The support that’s available out there — it’s really important to know that you’re not alone.”
Deputy Police Chief Dean Rae was among the Regina Police Service members who attended and helped out at the barbecue Thursday.
He said the event raises the profile of Tamra’s case and can hopefully bring in more information to help solve it.
While many investigators initially involved in Tamra’s missing person’s case have retired from the force, Rae remembers being pulled in to help alongside so many other members.
“Each and every one of us want to find resolution, we want to bring closure to the family, so that’s the part that’s troublesome for us,” Rae said.
“It’s not just about giving closure to ourselves, it’s about giving closure to the community and to the family and letting them know what happened to their loved one.”
According to a former cold case investigator for RPS, police still get about 16 tips every year about Tamra. Police remain in contact with her family members to provide any update they can.