Current Problems

Justice (25-42)

20 years after disappearance, search for Tamra Keepness continues

July 5, 2024

5-year-old girl last seen in Regina on July 5, 2004

Tamra Keepness
The Tamra Keepness case remains open in the hopes that one day, someone will come forward with information on her. (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women/Facebook)

CBC Indigenous: Twenty years ago, the disappearance of five-year-old Tamra Keepness shook the city of Regina.

She was last seen around 10:30 p.m. on July 5, 2004, at her home on the 1800 block of Ottawa Street, and was reported missing the next day.

Despite thousands of hours of work by investigators, hundreds of interviews and a $50,000 reward, she has not been seen since. 

Tamra was last seen sleeping in her room at the home where her family was living. Her disappearance led to the largest search effort in Regina’s history.

It’s been 20 years since a Regina girl disappeared

WATCH | CBC reporter looks back on search for missing child: 3 days ago, Duration 3:43

Tamra Keepness was last seen on July 5, 2004. The disappearance of the five-year-old shook the city of Regina. CBC reporter Geoff Leo reflects on what it was like to report on the story when it first happened, and the impact it had on the community and country.

Click on the following link to view the video:

On Friday, communities gathered in a Regina park for the annual barbecue held to honour Tamra Keepness and remind people that her case is still open.

As Ivy Kennedy sat at a picnic table and chatted with other grandmothers, she reflected on her memories from 20 years ago, when Tamra disappeared.

Kennedy is the founder and director of Women of the Dawn Counselling Centre. The Keepness family came to her organization for help, but at the time, they didn’t have any services to offer, she said.

Dozens of people line up under tents to be given food that was cooked on grills
The annual Tamra Keepness barbecue was held at Core Community Park in Regina on Friday. (Louise BigEagle, CBC/SK)

So Kennedy went to Edmonton, where there was a task force for missing and murdered Indigenous women and children. When she got back to Saskatchewan, she shared what she learned in the hope that the province could offer something similar.

“We lobbied the provincial government in Saskatchewan to get a task force for missing and murdered women and children,” Kennedy said. Those efforts were successful, she added.

Kennedy says events like the barbecue are vital for the community, so they know the search is ongoing.

“It’s so sad to think about that time,” Kennedy said. “She would have been 25 today. Tamra would have been involved with the community, because a lot of her family is involved with Women of the Dawn and other agencies.

“So it’s hard to think about what has happened to our children, but Tamra is one of those young ladies we’ll never forget, as a community.”

‘We take care of each other’: volunteer

Chastity Delorme is a community advocate from Cowessess First Nation who lives in Regina.

After Tamra’s disappearance, she said, she saw people out on the street looking for the child and flags tied around trees to mark where they had searched.

A women with her hair down stands in front of a horse portrait.
Chasity Delorme is from Cowessess First Nation but lives in Regina. She helps families who have loved ones who are missing. (Louise BigEagle, CBC/SK.)

Delorme also recalls the negativity Tamra’s family received from people after her disappearance. Some family members expressed concerns that police were spending too much time concentrating on them, instead of looking for the girl, CBC News reported in 2005.

“We have a great group of advocates now and people that work in MMIWG2S area that won’t allow that judgment to supersede the importance of finding a child,” said Delorme. “It’s unfortunate that we have to have the organizations, but it’s needed.”

Today, Delorme connects Indigenous families with resources that can help when their loved one goes missing. She shares police protocols on missing persons that the family may not know of, informs them of their rights and helps make posters.

“Our traditional roles as women in our community [are that] we take care of each other, we take care of our family, our friends, our community,” said Delorme. “It’s a matriarchal role, and I feel like it’s a responsibility that I was given.”

Delorme has two young daughters who were about the same age as Tamra was when she went missing.

This is why she feels her work is important, she says, and why she wishes the Keepness family had supports designed for MMIWG2S at that time.

“Organizations that amplify or support MMIWG2S are the ones that we need to put our support behind, because they know best what they need for their family.”

The Tamra Keepness case remains open in the hopes that one day, someone will come forward with information on her.

Anyone with knowledge of her disappearance is urged to call police or Crime Stoppers.


Louise BigEagle 

Louise is a journalist with CBC Saskatchewan since September 2022. She is Nakota/Cree from Ocean Man First Nations. She holds a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Regina.