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Vernon  

Never giving up

The families of three missing women are vowing to never give up the search.

Caitlyn Potts, Ashley Simpson and Deanna Wertz have been missing for a year and once again family members were in North Okanagan to not only continue the search, but to raise awareness of the plight of missing women not only locally, but nationally.

Ashley's dad, John Simpson, and Caitlyn's mom, Priscilla Potts, were in Enderby Friday and planned to conduct more ground searches for their missing children.

“There is a lot of hardship that goes on, a lot of emotional distress,” said John. “Unfortunately for a lot of the people, the funding is for children under the age of 18.”

John said that needs to change, and he is planning on protesting the government to provide more support for families looking for lost loved ones.

“So the families of the missing can have the support they need through counselling, financial support. It takes a lot of money and a lot of energy to come out here to find your children.”

John has made several trips to the Okanagan from his home in Ontario to search for Ashley. Priscilla has travelled from Alberta to search as well.

When asked if she feels the police and government have provided good support, Priscilla's answer was direct, “No.”

Priscilla wondered if the search and effort put into finding Caitlyn would have been different if her daughter was not First Nation.

John said the issue crosses all racial boundaries.

“All I have to say is who will be next? If we don't find the people who are responsible it could be your daughter, it could be your wife, it could be your son, it could be anybody,” said John, adding this is an issue for all Canadians.

“We need to band together as a community and as a country to end this; to find the people responsible. We will never give up until we find a solution to this problem. This problem is heart wrenching and until you are personally involved in it, you will not know the pain and suffering that goes on within the family.”

Dale Wertz said there have been no clues or information on the whereabouts of his sister.

Jody Leon, with the Splatsin First Nation, said it is alarming that three women have gone missing within a 25 kilometre radius.

Leon is organizing a walk on Saturday to raise awareness of the missing women.

“We want to put the message out to the world,” said Leon, adding if every person picked one of the missing women and organized a walk, or took to social media then they would not be forgotten.

“This is right in our own backyard. It's devastating.”

Leon urged anyone with information on any of the women to contact police.



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