JANE LOUISE SUTHERLANDJane Louise Sutherland, 19, nicknamed as “Jeano” was originally from the Moose Cree First Nation in Ontario. She relocated to Ottawa in spring 1982. Sutherland wanted to finish high school so she could begin administrative studies at university. Two years later, in 1984, her body was found in the Jacques Cartier Park, in Hull, Quebec. She had been strangled and her skull crushed. The Hull Police oversees Jane’s case.
Phoebe Sutherland has very fond memories of her aunt, Jane Sutherland. “She was so caring, such a good spirit, so beautiful,” says Sutherland. Jane was the youngest of 12 children. She used to babysit her niece Phoebe when she was just a young girl, on Moose Cree First Nation in Ontario. They were just 9 years apart. “I remember her doing my hair in three ponytails like Chrissy in Three’s Company.” Jane read to her and taught her to speak articulately, things she still practices today. In 1982, Jane left the north for Ottawa when she was 17 years old. Her family tried to stay in touch with her as much as possible. She loved the fact that she could type fast and thought she would excel in administrative studies. She even contemplated government work. According to Sutherland, Jane found that living in the city was remarkably different than her childhood, living off the land with her siblings and grandparents. She had an apartment, and attended Algonquin College for basic adult upgrading. She met someone and became pregnant. Together, the couple relocated to Hull. Only then her life started to take a wrong turn. The relationship ended and Jane had an abortion. Jane went back to school, only to meet another man and become pregnant again, this time living in a boarding house in Ottawa. By this point, Jane regularly used drugs and alcohol and had run-ins with the law. She lost all connection with the support group that she once relied on for help.
Working in the sex trade, Jane was often seen in Ottawa’s Byward Market. A friend of Jane's believed she wanted to get out of it, but didn’t know how. Jane, fully clothed, was found in Hull’s Jacques Cartier Park across the Ottawa River. She was dead for two or three days before being discovered on October 23, 1984.
Sutherland remembers hearing the news that Jane had been killed. “My father was called to the office and I didn’t see him until later that night. “ Phoebe doesn’t remember seeing her father much after that but could hear him crying at night. Jane’s face was severely disfigured, having suffered several blows to her head from a blunt object, crushing her skull. "It was a closed casket,” says Sutherland. “It was a very difficult closure.” She was buried in Moose Factory in an Anglican churchyard on October 27, 1984. “It's something I’ve been dealing with for 30 years,” says Sutherland. Sutherland thinks Jane did alcohol and drugs to mask her pain from being a former residential school student. Sutherland also believes Jane had an abusive partner and forced her aunt into the sex trade. According to one sex trade worker, Jane was last seen between October 16 and 22 in a restaurant with three or four men. One man reportedly struck Jane. The family and friends were never happy with the investigative efforts of the Hull police service. Sutherland says the police never regarded Jane’s death as a priority. In January 1985, two years after Jane's death, CBC News reconstructed the last few days of Jane’s life in an award-winning documentary called, ‘Jane: A Little Lost Girl.’ But it wouldn’t be until later in life that Phoebe would learn more about her aunt’s death. It is still very difficult for the family to talk about Jane’s death. “I did go to Jacque Cartier Park in November 20, of 2014,” shares Sutherland, adding it was for the first time. “I went to go pray and I offered tobacco, it was a full circle moment for me.” A filmmaker now, Sutherland would like to create a film about her aunt Jane -- something to give back to her family, in particular to her young nieces. “I had such an amazing auntie, I only had her for 11 years in my life,” says Sutherland. “I might have to accept the fact that her murder will never be solved.” Because there are far too many indigenous women and girls in Canada that go missing or get murdered, Sutherland would like to see a federal inquiry. “It’s been at the heart…every time I see a headline of a body discovered, that’s painful.”
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