A meeting room at a hotel near Winnipeg’s airport is serving as a makeshift search headquarters for volunteers from St. Theresa Point First Nation looking for a woman who hasn’t been seen in nearly a year.
Albert Shingoose is desperate for clues that might reunite him with his daugher, Ashlee, 31, whom he describes as a quiet and independent person.
“I’m not going home without her,” Albert told CBC on Saturday at the hotel. “I’m going to keep on looking until I find her.”
The last confirmed sighting of his daughter came on March 11, 2022, in downtown Winnipeg.
The Winnipeg police missing persons unit is investigating possible unconfirmed sightings of her in November 2022, and on Friday released a photo of her that hadn’t been seen before.
Albert and members of the Bear Clan searched for Ashlee last month.
“We’re not going to quit, we’re going to keep on looking,” Albert said.
Ashlee is described as five feet five inches tall, with a thin build. She has brown eyes and brown hair that could be cut short, police said.
Officers say they’re concerned for her well-being.
Albert says he’s concerned about the case of alleged serial killer Jeremy Skibicki, who’s been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of four women including one unidentified woman known as Mashkode Bizhiki’ikwe, or Buffalo Woman.
Police previously released images of a reversible Baby Phat brand jacket with a fur hood that investigators believe Buffalo Woman was wearing.
Albert says he, his wife and one of his daughters were asked by Winnipeg police to provide DNA samples about a month ago for comparison.
He said police shared results with him a couple days ago, and that lifted his spirits and gave him hope.
“The DNA samples didn’t match [with Buffalo Woman],” Albert said. “That picked us all up — it didn’t match. That was good.”
Police weren’t immediately available to comment Saturday on the DNA results, but officers say the search for Ashlee continues.
Volunteer searchers make 12-hour drive to Winnipeg
Members of St. Theresa Point First Nation are helping, with some volunteers making the 12-hour drive to Winnipeg from the northeastern Manitoba community now that winter roads have opened for the season.
Charlene Mason, who works in human resources for the First Nation, took time off work this week to help the Shingoose family.
“Can you imagine how this family feels? They don’t know where their daughter is,” Mason said. “We have to look for Ashlee like she’s our daughter because we all love our daughters, so that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Mason is part of the second group of volunteers from St. Theresa Point to take part in the search. Two additional groups are scheduled to come in to cover the next two weeks of searches.
They drive around the city in teams of two, following up on leads and tips that come in from the public.
“When we first came in here, at least for group two, we had to do a debriefing session before we could start,” Mason said. “We had to find out where the first group left off … and then we decided where to go that next day.”
Robert Flett, also part of the second group, says searching has been difficult in the extreme cold but there’s been support from numerous other groups, including Bear Clan, Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakank and Winnipeg police.
“They’re family,” Flett said. “We’re a close-knit family and community and everybody looks after each other. It’s like your own gone missing and you’ll do anything to have that peace of mind in the end.”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Winnipeg police missing persons unit at 204-986-6250.