Sask. family says it’s 'tough to be hopeful' 4 years after woman vanished

Margaret Bird says she goes back and forth between feelings of hope and despair four years after her mom disappeared.

“It’s just tough to be hopeful for four years and not knowing a lot to be hopeful for, I guess. At some point it just gets really draining,” she said.

Happy Charles was last seen on surveillance footage from the Prince Albert Collegiate Institute on April 3, 2017. She had travelled to Prince Albert from her home in La Ronge to visit her boyfriend, according to her family.

“I always thought that we would find her, from day one,” said Charles’ mom, Regina Poitras.

The family said police have been informing them of new tips coming in, but there’s no concrete evidence of why Charles hasn’t been seen or heard from since that night or where she is.

Poitras credits a billboard put up in the city last year for the incoming tips, with Charles’ name and photo reaching new people who may not have social media.

“It just hurts to think about my girl,” Poitras said, speaking through tears.

“COVID has been a real big setback to any searches that we could have done, any vigils that we could have done and any walks that we could have done. But it’s there, so we have to try different ways to bring out the awareness.”

Bird said not being able to host these events has made it difficult for her to cope.

“I just want her to come home. I know that she’s gone because I know that she wouldn’t leave without a word for four years, but there’s still that closure that would be really nice to have,” she said. “If it is foul play, of course I’m going to be angry. But at the same time, I’m just tired.”

In June 2020, Prince Albert police searched a rural property outside of the city after receiving information it may be connected to her disappearance. A news release said the area was vast, and the information was not enough to determine the exact location identified.

In November 2019, police released photos of a person taken from Prince Albert Collegiate Institute’s surveillance footage in relation to Charles’ case. The person was later identified and interviewed, and police determined they were not a suspect in the case.

The Prince Albert Police Service posted a video on its social media for the anniversary of Charles’ disappearance.

In the video, Sgt. Kathy Edwardsen, who’s investigating the case, encouraged anyone with information – no matter how insignificant it may seem – to contact police.

“Even a small bit of information could be that little piece of the puzzle that we’re missing,” Edwardsen said. “We’re never going to stop looking for the truth. The disappearance of Happy Charles has affected a lot of people.”

“It’s been a struggle, but we’ll make it through,” Poitras said, adding that she’s proud of her grandchildren for staying strong throughout the search for their mom.

Charles was 42 years old when she went missing.

She’s described as 5’1” tall, with brown eyes, black hair and a scar on her left cheek. She has a rose tattoo on her left hand.