TYLER STEPHENS/BRANDON SUN
Diana Rattlesnake, a 48-year-old woman originally from Waywayseecappo First Nation was found dead in a Brandon
rooming house on Oct. 28, 2004. The case was never solved by the Brandon Police Service.
Friends of an aboriginal woman found dead in Brandon still hold hope justice will be served even after the case has remained unsolved for nearly a decade.
On the night of Oct. 28, 2004, Diana Rattlesnake, originally from Waywayseecappo First Nation, was found dead with blunt force trauma to her head in her 11th Street rooming house suite.
The case, which was deemed a homicide by city police, was never solved.
There are more than 1,000 cases of missing or murdered aboriginal women since 1980, and a 22-page RCMP report released Friday suggests police solve cases involving aboriginal women at the same rate as their non-aboriginal counterparts.
The report, a detailed statistical breakdown of the cases, says aboriginal women make up 4.3 per cent of the Canadian population, yet account for 16 per cent of female homicides and 11.3 per cent of missing women.
Elaine Dowan was a close friend of 48-year-old Rattlesnake who held annual vigils for five years after her death to keep the memory alive.
While Dowan still has hope the homicide will be solved, she believes the case would have already been solved if Rattlesnake was white.
"I still to this day think that Diana Rattlesnake’s murderer should have been caught and dealt with accordingly," she said.
"For myself, I didn’t think the city police looked through Diana Rattlesnake’s case as much because she’s a native person. I think if she were a white person, city police would have looked at it differently."
According to Brandon Sun archives from the months following the mysterious death, the Brandon Police Service made public appeals to anyone with any information as clues began to run dry.
A year after the body was found, police told the Sun there had been forensic analysis, people subjected to lie-detector tests, and people were interviewed and
Rattlesnake, a mother of three, was last seen at a party in the rooming house two days prior to the discovery of her body.
Sgt. Dallas Lockhart said several investigators have been on and off the case over the last several years.
Rattlesnake had experienced bouts of homelessness, but before her death, she was working at the now-closed Westman Recycling and had a place to live, Dowan said.
As the 10-year anniversary draws closer, Dowan said she still has hope.
"I was her close friend, our kids grew up together," Dowan said. "I still hold hope that someday that Diana Rattlesnake’s case will be solved."
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 17, 2014