Although they are no closer to knowing what happened to Mary Papatsie, her friends and family continue to raise funds to bring her remains home to Pangnirtung to be laid to rest alongside her parents. (File photo courtesy of the Papatsie family)

Still no answers as Mary Papatsie’s family raises funds to bury her in Nunavut

39-year-old went missing in 2017 near Ottawa; family hopes she can be buried in home town of Pangnirtung

By Andrea Sakiyama Kennedy

Updated Thursday, Jan. 12 at 1:45 p.m.

More than two months after Mary Papatsie’s remains were identified after being discovered near Ottawa, the family is focused on getting answers about her death and raising enough money to bring her home to Pangnirtung.

Her niece, Charlotte Lee, told Nunatsiaq News on Tuesday that family members felt overwhelmed in the weeks after police confirmed remains found on a construction site in Ottawa’s Vanier area in late September were those of Papatsie.

Papatsie was 39 when she went missing in that area in April 2017. Originally from Pangnirtung, she had been living in the Ottawa area for about 15 years before her disappearance.

It was difficult for her family to know what to do in the aftermath of the discovery, Lee said.

“It felt like a double-edged sword,” she said. “I am glad she is home, but now it is like, ‘OK, but what happened?’”

Lee said investigators with the Ottawa Police Service have been in communication with the family. However, the information they’ve shared is limited because of the ongoing investigation into Papatsie’s death.

The investigation is being led by the police homicide unit.

“It is difficult,” said Lee, “because you want the answers now, but you can’t have answers right away, and we have to be patient.”

Ottawa police did not immediately respond to an emailed request for an update on Papatsie’s case Tuesday.

Lee launched a GoFundMe page in early October and money is still being raised to cover expenses related to having family members travel to Ottawa to bring Papatsie back to Nunavut for a funeral.

Her remains were released to the family late last year, and they plan to bring her back to Pangnirtung to be laid to rest alongside her parents.

Some of Papatsie’s 10 children live in Ottawa, as do other family members and friends. Lee said the money raised will be used to send as many of them as possible to Nunavut to attend the funeral.

Lee became emotional as she spoke about her aunt, calling her “a very loving person” who enjoyed good food and family and who had a “very contagious laugh.”

As difficult as it is not having all the answers, and with the circumstances surrounding the discovery of her remains in Vanier, Lee said she is glad Papatsie was finally found.

“I try to take comfort knowing that she is not there anymore,” she said, “that she’s not lost.”

Clarification: This article was updated to note that some of Mary Papatsie’s children live in Ottawa

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(2) Comments:

  1. Posted by getting answers from the south is not easy on

    My Niece Tara Niptanatiak was found in a garbage can, in Calgary Alberta February last year. We don’t have answers as to what happened and were told that it can take months before we can get the autopsy report but we don’t know how or who put her in the garbage can. The medical examiner even spelt her last name wrong and she was buried in a cemetery without our consent. We had to pay to have her exhumed and brought home to Cambridge Bay to be buried. It’s been almost a year later and we still have no answers. It has been a real nightmare trying to get answers as to what happened to her and why was she put into a garbage can, the Calgary police have deemed her case as not suspicious but no one climbs into a garbage can to die, she would not have been able to get into the garbage can by herself. She was tiny, the garbage can is taller then her…My condolences go out to the family and friends of this lady, my she RIP <3

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