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Police, family plead for information in unsolved 2009 death of First Nations woman in Edmonton

The family of a First Nations woman who was killed in Edmonton more than 14 years ago is pleading for any information that might help investigators solve the case.

Michelle Hadwen, 37, died in October 2009. Her case remains unsolved and to date, there have been no arrests. 

Detectives released surveillance video footage and photos of Hadwen on Friday, in the hope that someone with information about her death might come forward.

“With the help from citizens, we’re hopeful that we will someday bring comfort to Michelle’s family, who continue to grieve without answers all these years later,” Det. Kim Jay with the historical homicide unit said at a news conference. 

Police are also hoping the photos will jog the memories of residents living in the Eastwood neighbourhood at the time Hadwen was found. 

WATCH: Surveillance video shows Michelle Hadwen interacting with people at York Hotel:

Edmonton police release security video in 2009 homicide

4 hours ago

Duration 0:29

Surveillance video shows Michelle Hadwen interacting with several people at the York Hotel on Oct. 5, 2009. Police are hoping to jog the memory of people who saw her the night before she was found dead.

Hadwen’s father, Andrew Quewezance, said at the news conference that he came to Edmonton looking for answers. 

“I believe today there is somebody out there that can help in finding closure for our families so we can live in peace and let my daughter rest in peace,” Quewezance said. 

“We’re all human beings and for myself, I don’t wanna leave this earth without knowing what happened to my daughter.”

Police said that on Oct. 6, 2009, a passerby called 911 to report an injured woman lying in the roadway near 79th Street and 121st Avenue at about 4:10 a.m.

When police and paramedics arrived, Hadwen was treated and taken to hospital with life-threatening injuries. She died of her injuries at the hospital two days later. 

The Edmonton Medical Examiner completed an autopsy on Hadwen on the day of her death, determining the manner of death was homicide. 

The cause of death has never been released, but police said a vehicle collision was ruled out.

Family seeking closure

Hadwen was originally from James Smith Cree Nation and Keeseekoose First Nations in Saskatchewan.

She first came to Edmonton around 1991 and travelled often between Alberta and Saskatchewan until 2007, when she made Edmonton her permanent home, Jay said.

Her aunt, Vera Roy, shared fond memories of her niece. 

“I got to meet Michelle when she was a teenager. Very beautiful. I can still see her come walking down the hallway,” Roy said. “Brown hair, beautiful looking, resembling her father.

“Michelle will always be near and dear in my heart. I’ve advocated for her since she left 14 and a half years ago and I will continue to do that.”

A portrait of a woman with brown hair.
Michelle Hadwen, 37, was killed in Edmonton in October 2009. (Submitted by Edmonton Police Service)

Roy pleaded for help from the public, citing the statistics of murdered and missing Indigenous women across Canada. 

“I’ve always advocated for murdered and missing Indigenous women. And I will continue to do that until my last breath,” Roy said.

The KARE unit, an RCMP entity that investigates files of murdered or missing vulnerable persons in Alberta, was notified about her death.

Hadwen was well known in several circles in areas such as 95th Street and 118th Avenue, Jay said. 

“Michelle spent quite a bit of time in establishments such as Reno’s Pub and the York Hotel and we are hopeful that someone who remembers her from these places may have information about the hours leading up to her death,” she said. 

WATCH: A new monument will be a gathering place for family of MMIWG:

New monument dedicated to MMIWG will serve as a place to heal

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Families of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls say a new monument in Whitefish River First Nation will be a gathering place to help them heal. The project has been in the works for years and is one of the few public monuments dedicated to MMIWG in Canada.

Hadwen spent several hours at the York Hotel the night before died. Surveillance video shows her interacting with several people at the York, before leaving alone at 9 p.m.

“I want to reach out and maybe trigger that memory with that video of Michelle and the patrons there because maybe there’s more information,” Jay said. “We know that sometimes people don’t come forward. This will show them that this investigation is still open.”

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