Leona Brule was born on May 29, 1970 in Fort Providence, Northwest Territories. A member of a family that included her parents and sisters, she was constantly surrounded by love while living in the small northern community.
Growing up, Leona was known for her determined and outgoing spirit. She had the ability to light up a room, and her friendly and trustable personality made her very approachable. She was known for being fiercely protective of her siblings and cousins, and enjoyed picking berries with her mother, Earnestine Brule, and her aunt, Catherine Sanderson.
As a teenager, Leona began to explore what life had to offer outside of Fort Providence. As such, she began to frequently travel to Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Her sister would eventually move there and Leona began work as her live-in nanny. She adored her niece, Vanessa Brule, often sewing toys and outfits for the then two-year-old girl.
Leona’s boyfriend in the late 1980s resided in Edmonton and she would visit him regularly. Since she didn’t own a vehicle, she would often hitchhike to Alberta’s capital city. However, whether she was in Edmonton or Yellowknife, she would keep in frequent contact with her family and always returned to her home in Fort Providence.
The details surrounding Leona’s disappearance are foggy, with only a few details known. For the majority of her family, their last contact with her was in the fall of 1988, when she was 18 years old. She had briefly visited Fort Providence before making the trek to Edmonton and had promised her family she would be back in one week’s time. She never did return home.
According to family members living in Edmonton, their last contact with Leona, then 19 years old, was in March 1989. Her disappearance didn’t register with the family at first, as it was felt Leona would eventually return. In October 1989, a year since she was last in Fort Providence and after no contact with her immediate family, her mother filed a missing persons report with the local detachment of the RCMP.
Both her family and investigators have very little to go on in regards to Leona’s disappearance. The RCMP says the primary difficulty investigators face is they don’t have a solid timeline of the missing woman’s whereabouts in 1989. They don’t know where she went missing from or what she was wearing at the time.
At the time, Leona was living a transient lifestyle, which investigators deemed as high risk. As such, her disappearance was deemed suspicious. While drug and alcohol use is suspected due to this, it hasn’t been confirmed.
Given her family’s sightings of Leona in Edmonton, the RCMP believes she may have been living on the city’s streets in the 1990s. However, she has not been seen since the 1989 sightings.
At one point, investigators thought they’d tracked the missing woman down in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories. Reports had come in saying someone who resembled Leona was staying at a hotel in the area. When approached, it was determined that the woman was not Leona.
According to Vanessa, her uncle has said that her aunt had gone to a party with others. At some point during the evening, she’d left with a group of people. However, this version of events has not been substantiated.
After Leona’s disappearance, her aunt received a letter from Florida. In it was a newspaper clipping with a note that suggested she use the page to help her lose weight, as she’d been overweight when she’d last been in contact with her niece. Unsure of who had sent it, she passed it on to the authorities.
Leona’s health card and social insurance number have not been used since her disappearance.
In 2018, the RCMP renewed their call for leads in the case by posting call-to-actions on their social media accounts. As of 2020, her case remains open and the RCMP has familial DNA on file, should they need it. Officers are in regular contact with the family, who say they’re satisfied with the investigation thus far.
1) The current theory in the case is that Leona met with some form of foul play. Some feel she may have been picked up by someone with nefarious intentions while hitchhiking around Yellowknife, while others feel she encountered foul play during her stay in Edmonton. Her aunt worries someone may have taken advantage of her kind nature. Due to a lack of evidence and leads in the case, all those involved in the investigation can do is speculate.
Leona’s mother has since passed away. According to the family, she became reserved after her daughter’s disappearance.
Vanessa was an advocate for Canada’s inquiry into the nation’s missing and murdered Indigenous women. She feels her aunt’s case didn’t receive enough attention and, as a result, there are many unanswered questions.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Leona Mae Brule was last seeing Edmonton, Alberta in March 1989. She was 19 years old, and is known to have used the aliases “Jodie Summers” and “Leona Mae Summers”. What she was wearing is currently unknown. At the time of her disappearance, she stood at 4’6″ with a medium build and weighed 106 pounds. She has brown-to-black curly hair and brown eyes. She has a burn scar on her left hand and a circular-shaped scar on her upper right cheek. According to dental records, seven of her teeth have received treatment and five are absent. Her ears are pierced.
Currently, the case is classified as endangered missing. If alive, she would be 49 years old.
If you have any information regarding the case, you can contact the Fort Providence RCMP detachment at 867-699-1111. Tips can also be submitted anonymously via Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Image Credit: CBC