When tragedy strikes, where to turn
In one of the photos on the missing posters that Karina Wolfe's family and friends have plastered all over the city of Saskatoon, she smiles shyly at the camera, her long black hair pulled into a pony tail that hangs down over her shoulder. In the other, Karina had dyed her hair a shocking pink.
They look like photos of two different young women, and indeed, Karina Wolfe had two different lives. In one, she was a daughter, much loved despite her struggles, and in the other, a drug addict who lived a high-risk lifestyle.
"I was standing at the bus stop and Karina was moving out of my apartment that day," Carol Wolfe, Karina's mother, recalls of the last time she saw her 20-year-old daughter. It was about six o'clock the evening of Friday, July 2, 2010.
"She came running up to me to talk to me," Wolfe, who is hearing impaired, said in an email interview. "I told her to come home for the night, I told her I love you and she told me I love you too mom. That is when she got into a car and left with her friend."
The days passed but Wolfe wasn't sure whether something was wrong or not. She decided to wait until her birthday.
"She never missed my birthday. I waited for her all day to come to my place but she never came. That is when I knew something was wrong and went and reported her missing to the police."
That's when Wolfe began the gut-wrenching waiting game faced by the parents and loved ones of the thousands of missing persons reported every year.
Wolfe walked the streets frequented by her daughter, and called all of her friends in the hope of finding some clue. Police, too, were quick to respond to her missing person report, and they put Wolfe in touch with the local Victim Services office.
"We just try to surround the families, the people we're working with, with a support system so if they're having a bad day they have somebody to call," said Dorthea Swiftwolfe, the Missing Persons Liaison for the Saskatoon Victim Services Program.
Victim Services is a volunteer program to assist victims of crime or families going through a traumatic event. Most of the time, people are referred by police but they also get walk-ins or referrals from therapists. Sometimes, Victim Services workers reach out and call to let people know that their services are available.
"We do deal with everything from a B&E to a robbery to a homicide. We even deal with sudden death or suicide," Swiftwolfe said.
But they work most closely with the Major Crimes and the Sex Crimes units of the Saskatoon Police Service, helping the victims of crime with everything from filling out victim compensation forms to reading victim impact statements in court, if need be.