20 years after disappearance, search for Tamra Keepness continues

Twenty years ago, the disappearance of five-year-old Tamra Keepness shook the city of Regina.

She was last seen around 10:30 p.m. on the night of July 5, 2004, at her home on the 1800 block of Ottawa Street, and was reported missing the next day.

Despite thousands of hours of work by investigators, hundreds of interviews and a $50,000 reward, she has not been seen since.

Tamra was last seen sleeping in her room at the home where her family was living. Her disappearance led to the largest search effort in Regina's history.

'We take care of each other,' volunteer says

Chastity Delorme is a community advocate from Cowessess First Nation who lives in Regina.

After Tamra's disappearance, she said, she saw people out on the street looking for the child and flags tied around trees to mark where they had looked.

Delorme also recalls the negativity the family received from people after the disappearance. Some family members expressed concerns that police were spending too much time concentrating on them, instead of looking for the girl, CBC News reported in 2005.

"We have a great group of advocates now and people that work in MMIWG2S area that won't allow that judgment to supersede the importance of finding a child," said Delorme. "It's unfortunate that we have to have the organizations, but it's needed."

Today, Delorme connects Indigenous families with resources that can help when their loved one goes missing. She shares police protocols on missing persons that family may not know of, informs them of their rights and even helps make posters.

"Our traditional roles as women in our community [are that] we take care of each other, we take care of our family, our friends, our community," said Delorme. "It's a matriarchal role and I feel like it's a responsibility that I was given."

Delorme has two young daughters who were about the same age as Tamra was when she went missing.

This is why she feels her work is important, and why she wishes the Keepness family had these supports like MMIWG2S at that time.

"Organizations that amplify or support MMIWG2S are the ones that we need to put our support behind, because they know best what they need for their family."

The Tamra Keepness case remains open in the hopes that one day, someone will come forward with information on her.

Anyone with knowledge of her disappearance is urged to call police or Crime Stoppers.