Remembering Lisa Marie Young, 18 years after she disappeared

What: March for Lisa Marie Young
When: Sunday, June 28, at 11 a.m.
Where: Starting at Nanaimo RCMP detachment, 303 Prideaux St., and heading to the waterfront

Lisa Marie Young was 21 when she went missing 18 years ago during the Canada Day long weekend.

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She was last seen leaving a Nanaimo nightclub early on June 30, 2002.

The passage of time hasn’t made things any easier for her family and friends, who hold an annual march in her memory. This year’s march takes place June 28 at 11 a.m., starting at the Nanaimo RCMP detachment and heading to the waterfront.

Carol Frank, Young’s aunt, said she was travelling from Long Beach to take part in the march with family members.

Frank said Young was a hard worker and was just about to move on to a new job in telemarketing when she disappeared.

She was outgoing and knew many people, Frank said. “She had lots of friends in Nanaimo that still support us.”

A number of them will be at the march, she said. “Every year they show up.”

Frank said her sister, Marlene Joanne Young — Lisa’s mother — organized the march until her death in 2017.

“It was really hard on my sister, not knowing what happened to Lisa,” Frank said. “She held a vigil every year and the last few years it was kind of hard on her because of her health.”

Her sister was determined that her daughter would be remembered, Frank said.

“It was always my sister’s goal to keep Lisa’s name in the public so people wouldn’t forget, in the hope that someone would come forward with information,” she said.

“Somebody knows something and they’re not coming forward.”

Cyndy Hall became involved with organizing the march after Marlene Joanne Young died.

“I advocate for Lisa Marie Young, but I also knew her when I was teenager,” Hall said.

Like Frank, she urged members of the public to relay any information they have on the case. “It takes one person to bring Lisa home.”

Hall said that the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls persists, despite the national inquiry that delved into it from 2016-19.

“People are talking about it, but nothing’s really been done still.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada said in a statement that is “horrified by the deaths and disappearances of so many Indigenous women like Lisa Marie Young.”

It also expressed regret that the federal government didn’t release a national action plan this month in response to the national inquiry, something that it said was promised.

Such a plan “could be the start to the end of the violence,” the association said.

According to figures from the federal government, Indigenous women in Canada accounted for nine per cent of female homicides in 1980 and 21 per cent in 2014. The homicide rate for Indigenous women was close to six times higher than that of non-Indigenous women.

Nanaimo RCMP Const. Gary O’Brien said police are still involved in the case.

“The investigators are continuing to work that file and are continuing to move forward,” he said. “They interviewed a lot of people, other people have come forward, we’re still following up on every lead.”

He said police hoped to draw some attention by appearing on a podcast about Young by Laura Palmer and requesting information about the case.

“We also centred on the impact it’s had on the community and the family.”

Palmer said her podcast was made with the idea that Young’s story deserved a wider audience, and that more publicity could help solve the case.

The idea was to get to know Lisa, Palmer said.

“Just trying to, as much as I could, talk to her friends and family members and bring her to life,” she said. “One of the things that struck me about her is she had grit.”

Former co-workers at McDonald’s, where she was a manager, said she was good with people, Palmer said, while others described her as confident.

Her dream was to be a sportscaster, she said. “She loved sports, she loved the Canucks.”

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog has declared June 28 Justice for Lisa Marie Young Day, while June 30 is Lights on for Lisa Day, with people encouraged to leave their porch lights on in her memory.

The march will feature social distancing and participants will be encouraged to wear masks.

jwbell@timescolonist.com

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