Tiffany Alice Morrison was born on December 7, 1981 to parents Jack and Carol. Along with her sister, Melanie, and her brothers, the family lived on the Kahnawake reserve, just southwest of Montreal, Quebec.
Growing up, Tiffany was known for her boundless energy and outgoing personality. She had a good sense of humour and was known for her infectious laugh, which would result in those around her joining in on the fun. Given her goodnatured attitude, she trusted very easily and was loved by everyone who knew her.
The 24-year-old was the mother of a young child and was known for being a good auntie to her nieces. When not focusing on her family, she is said to have been looking to the future. According to sources, she had completed an entrepreneurial training program, with plans of starting her own business.
DISAPPEARANCE & DISCOVERY:
On the night of June 18, 2006, Tiffany visited the Hiraki Bar in the LaSalle district of Montreal, where she met some friends and listened to live music. Just before midnight, she left the bar and was seen getting into an Angrignon company taxi (information her family would only learn about four years later) with a man who also resided in Kahnawake. Despite the trip being only a 10-minute drive across the St. Lawrence River, Tiffany never made it home.
Her family immediately knew something was amiss. Worried, they contacted the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers, the reservation’s police force. According to the family, the Peacekeepers initially shrugged them off, believing Tiffany had run away or had simply spent the night drinking and would return home soon. Her family disputed this, given Tiffany’s love for her daughter, and insisted a missing person’s file be opened. This finally happened on July 4, 2006, 16 days after she went missing.
According to her sister, Melanie, the Peacekeepers’ training was not sufficient enough to properly handle the investigation. To make up for this, the family themselves knocked on doors, tracked down Tiffany’s last known whereabouts and interviewed those who may have information. They did this despite discouragement from the Peacekeepers, who said any unofficial searches could contaminate potential evidence.
In response to the family’s concerns, the Peacekeepers cited a lack of resources, training and funding provided under the First Nations Policing Program. The program is a funding agreement negotiated between Public Safety Canada, Indigenous communities and the province. According to the Peacekeepers, their staff of 32, including two investigators, regularly experiences burnout and does not have enough personnel to meet the demands of the reserve’s population.
The Peacekeepers tracked down the man who had taken the taxi with Tiffany. He claimed the taxi driver had dropped him off first, before continuing on with the missing woman, but was unable to remember any details about the driver or the taxi company itself. After this, he became uncooperative with the investigation and, despite initially agreeing to take a lie detector test, backed out four days before, saying his Longhouse wouldn’t allow him to participate. The unidentified man is said to have been the Peacekeepers’ only suspect, and Melanie shares that having him living in the community has caused a rift between residents.
To motivate people to come forward, the Morrison family put up billboards with Tiffany’s face and a number those with tips could call. Further hoping to raise awareness, community members posted her image around the reserve.
In March 2009, Montreal’s Native Women’s Association held a vigil at Avenue Atwater and Rue Sainte-Catherine. The vigil was done in conjunction with the loved ones of missing and murdered women. Tiffany’s case was one of those highlighted.
The family heard very little about the investigation until her remains were found.
On May 31, 2010, Tiffany’s skeletal remains were located by a construction worker in a wooded area near the Honoré Mercier Bridge, along the eastbound Route 138-132 service road, near the Adirondack Junction. The location is less that two kilometres from her home, and the bridge itself links Montreal to the South Shore region of the province. The remains were sent to a provincial police forensic lab for identification, which was done through the use of dental records. However, given the amount of time that had passed, a cause of death couldn’t be determined.
The Sûreté du Québec, the province’s police force, took over the investigation about a year after the remains were found. To kick off their investigation, they brought potential witnesses back in for questioning, as the Peacekeepers hadn’t taken any statements. Afterward, they renewed efforts to locate the taxi driver who had picked up Tiffany on the night she disappeared. However, the taxi company didn’t have any records from 2006 and the identity of the driver could not be determined.
Tiffany’s family believes she couldn’t have ended up in the wooded area of her own accord and says she would have put up a fight against her killer. They feel there’s someone in the community who knows something that could close the case. After her remains were found, the billboards along Highway 132 were updated, asking passersby to call in any information regarding the murder.
There is currently a $75,000 reward being offered to anyone who has information that could lead to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Tiffany’s death.
In 2011, a memorial site was constructed by community members, close to where her remains were found.
Tiffany’s family feels the media has largely ignored her disappearance and murder.
According to the family, they last spoke with investigators in 2014. While the case remains open, it’s currently unknown if the provincial police force has identified any suspects. Melanie says the last few years have been difficult because of how the case has been mishandled. She and her family wonder if things would have turned out differently if their concerns were addressed earlier on in the investigation, and they worry there’ll be no closure to the case.
In June 2016, the family renewed their calls for help with the investigation. They held a march and vigil, which led them to the memorial site in the hopes of bringing more light to the case.
In September 2016, the memorial site was vandalized. The cross, which had been constructed by Tiffany’s father and decorated by her niece, was broken and thrown onto a nearby access road. There was also graffiti on the benches and paraphernalia in the grass. This caused a great deal of grief for the family, who made a new cross and cleaned up the site. To prevent further destruction, town workers now check the area every Monday and Friday, and the family have made the memorial more visible by clearing nearby trees.
Tiffany’s family has held numerous vigils over the years in order to raise awareness about the case. They typically include a march down Highway 132 before a vigil is held at the memorial site. People wear red to honour North America’s missing and murdered Indigenous women, and students display hundreds of red butterflies.
Melanie says she constantly speaks with her sister and tells her the family won’t rest until the person responsible for her death is brought to justice. She continues to coordinate vigils, maintain a Facebook page about the case, make posters and does all she can to keep the public engaged.
Melanie has also worked over the past decade to improve how the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers handle cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women. As of 2019, it’s said their relationship with the family has vastly improved, and they’ve put a proper protocol in place for the handling of missing persons cases. As a result of their evolving relationship with the Morrison family, the Peacekeepers have asked Melanie to speak with other Indigenous police forces.
Melanie has become an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women. She was a member of the National Family Advisory Circle during Canada’s national inquiry into the country’s missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, and she hoped the inquiry would address the problems that stem from police missteps, so that another family wouldn’t have to go through what hers has. She wrote the forward for the Quebec-centric report, where she shared that police didn’t take Tiffany’s disappearance seriously until the trail went cold and her body was found. She pushed for immediate changes to the way cases involving Indigenous women are handled, so there isn’t a delay in time-sensitive searches.
In May 2017, Melanie was recognized by Amnesty International for her activism. She was awarded the organization’s most prestigious award, the Ambassador of Conscience Award, along with three other Indigenous women. The following December, she was also one of 10 people the francophone branch of the organization focused on for its annual Write for Rights campaign. Through the campaign, she received 6599 notes of love, encouragement and support from people around the world who appreciate what she is doing for Indigenous women.
Amnesty International also honoured Melanie through the Courage and Justice in Honour of Melanie Morrison ceremony, which took place in March 2018.
Tiffany’s father has since passed away.
In July 2017, Tiffany’s image appeared in Walking With Our Sisters, a touring art installation dedicated to more than 1,200 Indigenous women who had died, disappeared or been killed under suspicious circumstances. The visit made a stop at the Kateri School Kahnawake.
In October 2018, Tiffany’s niece, Dara Bordeau, and her 7th grade class at Trafalgar School for Girls created life-sized paper dresses, inspired by the REDress Project. She decorated her dress with a photo of her deceased aunt and those of other women whose cases remain unsolved, hoping to demonstrate the disparity between cases of missing Indigenous women and other women in Canada. She shared that the project helped open her eyes to how big the crisis in the country is. This followed a 2017 talk by Melanie, who spoke with the class about the family’s family’s experience and her own role in the National Family Advisory Circle.
In March 2019, a group of commissioners from the national inquiry visited 10th grade art students at the Kahnawake Survival School, where Melanie has previously spoken. During this visit, Melanie shard Tiffany’s story.
In 2019, Melanie helped to facilitate a healing circle called Women Are Sisters. The group used embroidery to share, heal and empower women who are themselves survivors of violence, and it was one of 10 projects in Quebec to receive funding through the federal Department of Women and Gender Equality’s $13 million MMIWG commemoration fund. The group met weekly at the Ashukan Cultural Space in Montreal, where they embroidered squares which would then be made into a quilt meant to honour the lives of missing Indigenous women and girls. A coffee table book was also created to share the stories behind each square. Melanie says healing circles have been a powerful tool for her and her family.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Sûreté du Québec at 418-623-6249 or the Kahnawake Mohawk Peacekeepers at 450-632-6505.
Image Credit: CBC