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8 years after her disappearance, Mekayla Bali’s family continues to believe despite frustration with RCMP

It has been eight years since Mekayla Bali vanished without a trace from Yorkton, Sask. In 2024, the family continues to search for answers.

On April 12, 2016, Bali, who was 16 at the time, disappeared from a bus depot. She has been added to missing children’s lists in Canada and the U.S., as the investigation into where she went continues.

Previous RCMP statements said she went to the Yorkton Bus Depot and inquired about a bus leaving for Regina, but it was determined she never purchased a ticket.

Mekayla’s mother Paula Bali said she will never forget the day Mekayla went missing.

“Someone at work said, ‘Your mom is here, she needs to talk to you about a family emergency,’” Bali explained.

“I looked at my mom’s face and I just knew something horrible had happened. My mom had never come to my work, so I knew the gravity of the situation immediately and literally your heart sinks to your gut.”

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Paula Bali is the mother of Mekayla Bali, who went missing in 2016. Dave Parsons / Global News

Eight years later, she continues to hope Mekayla is out there alive, but the frustration is starting to grow.

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“Sometimes in our stories of missing people, people that we think should be the heroes, sometimes become the villains,” Bali said, describing the RCMP.

She feels the aftermath of Mekayla going missing was extremely traumatic for her entire family. Bali said over the last eight years, she feels the RCMP have let her down and treated her poorly.

“If your child is missing it’s probably going to fall on your shoulders to look, to advocate, to speak out, to sometimes dig really, really deep and to be very uncomfortable with the conversations you have to have,” Bali said.

April 28 to May 4 marks the 11th Anniversary of Missing Persons Week in Saskatchewan, a time when the RCMP highlight the number of missing person cases ongoing in the province.

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In 2023, 2,533 individuals were reported missing to Saskatchewan RCMP. There are currently 140 long-term missing persons in the province.

It has been eight years since Mekayla Bali vanished without a trace from Yorkton, Sask. Andrew Benson / Global News

In regard to the criticism from Bali, RCMP assistant commissioner Rhonda Blackmore said the RCMP needs more help.

“When it comes to missing persons or historical cases, we have 140 of those files and we have a very small unit that is trying to deal with those files,” Blackmore said. “We don’t have someone who is dedicated to each one of those missing persons, it’s just not something we can do.”

Blackmore said with the constant turnover of new cases, it’s difficult to give each case the attention it required.

“That’s why we’re trying to work with the province to get more resources because we do believe that if we can spend more dedicated time on a specific file, (we) make sure we’re giving those regular updates to the families that they deserve,” Blackmore said.

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“It’s so important that they hear from us.”

Although there has been funding from the province and federal government this year towards missing person cases, Bali said for families who have suffered, the money has no value.

“In my heart as a mom, I continue to choose to believe that she’s alive. Until someone can prove otherwise, I will believe that,” she said.

Click to play video: 'Still searching: The disappearance of Mekayla Bali'

Still searching: The disappearance of Mekayla Bali

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