A quiet Shuswap country road was not so quiet on Sunday night.
More than 40 vehicles with yellow lights flashing in the darkness and red ribbons tied on them parked in the 2200 block of Salmon River Road, in the community of Silver Creek near Salmon Arm, around 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 1. In a rally focused on missing women, about 60 people gathered at the gate of the farm where Curtis Sagmoen lives with his parents, to drum, chant and hold prayers.
Along with media and supporters, including families of the women missing in the Shuswap as well as family of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux, whose remains were found by police in October 2017 on the farm, two RCMP officers stood quietly near the gate.
A lighted poster of the four missing women – Nicole Bell, Caitlin Potts, Ashley Simpson, Deanna Wertz – and Traci was set up for everyone to see.
The farmhouse remained in darkness while people at the gate shouted, call and response, to the beat of hand drums.
The theme was: No justice, no peace. No more stolen sisters. Gone but not forgotten.
At different points during the approximate hour at the gate, onlookers said they could see Curtis Sagmoen outside in the darkness. The yard lights were turned on by someone at the house at one point. A woman was seen recording with a phone on the porch. Someone, thought to be Sagmoen, drove off in a vehicle towards the back of the property.
The night concluded with a prayer ceremony for the women and families.
Tina Blandford, Nicole Bell’s aunt, like other family members of the missing women, expressed her gratitude for all the people present.
“We’re very grateful for all the support of all the communities around us and all the people who have come tonight to support what we are doing. The families just want answers to what happened to their daughters.”
Bell’s 35th birthday was Monday, Nov. 2.
She is one of four women in the Shuswap who went missing over the course of 19 months between February 2016 and September 2017. Bell was last seen on Sept. 2, 2017, in Sicamous.
It was on Feb. 21, 2016, that Potts, who lived in Enderby, was last seen. On April 27 of that year, Simpson was gone. On July 19, 2016, Wertz was last seen. Both Simpson and Wertz lived on Yankee Flats Road on the outskirts of Silver Creek. Traci Genereaux, whose remains were found on the farm in 2017, was from Vernon. No charges have been laid regarding her death.
Among the people showing their support Sunday was Enderby’s Baylee Burian.
“The missing women in our area has been a cause close to my heart for a few years now,” she said. “I did not know any of the missing women personally, but I’ve gotten to know the mothers now… over the course of the years this has been going on.”