STONEY NAKODA – It has been two years and almost three months since Tiffany Ear and Glynnis Fox were found in a burnt out car in Calgary.
Leaving behind a big family with 16 children between them and several siblings, the murdered sisters from Stoney Nakoda Nation are described as loving and great mothers by their family.
"They were both really happy, kind and generous women. They never thought about themselves – they were the type of people who always put other people first even if they didn't have much to offer – they would always give what they had," Kaila Ear, sister of Ear and Fox said in a phone interview Tuesday (Oct. 28) morning.
Victims of a quadruple homicide, 25-year-old Cody Pfeiffer's body was also found in the same vehicle and the body of Hanock Afowerk, 26, was found near Highway 22 and Highway 8, west of Calgary, two days later.
Two months after the bodies were discovered, two people were arrested. Yu Chieh Liao, who goes by Diana Liao, and Tewodros Mutugeta Kebede, both in their mid-20s at the time, were charged with first-degree murder in connection with the homicide of Afowerk. Liao and Kebede were also facing three counts of accessory after the fact in the deaths of Fox, Ear and Pfeiffer.
In the original police statement, Calgary Police Services said investigators were exploring the possibility that Fox, Ear and Pfeiffer were "simply in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people."
"Although charges have been laid, the investigation is ongoing as police believe there are additional people involved," the Calgary Police stated in an October 2017 press release.
In July 2018, Calgary Police Services gave an updated statement saying officials were continuing to work with police agencies across the country, as they "remained confident that additional people were involved in the homicides."
Liao and Kebede started a six-week trial Monday (Oct. 28) at the Calgary Court of Queens Bench. Liao and Kebede pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge for Afowerk. Liao also pleaded not guilty to being an accessory after the fact in the slayings of Ear, Fox and Pfeiffer.
Kaila Ear said the family has been receiving updates from the lead detectives and are waiting to see the outcome of the trial.
"They were obviously murdered," Ear said.
"It is sad no one has been charged yet, but I am happy they are keeping us informed."
Since the sisters' murders, Ear said Tiffany and Glynnis are dearly missed by all of their family and friends.
"It's been really lonely, really sad, you know," she said.
"I was really close with them and they [helped] raise me and my younger siblings – they taught us everything we know, they were like our moms too. It's like a big part of my heart missing and there is nothing I can do about it."
Fox's mother-in-law Bonnie Whitlock expressed her anger over losing her daughter-in-law.
"Glynnis would get in the back of the car with the boys in between [their] car seats and hold [their] hands. I would tell her to sit up front, but she always sat in the back with the boys; kissing [their] hands as she held them, kissing [their] hands and [their] lips and cheeks. [The little one] remembers all that," Whitlock said.
She said the "little one" does the same thing now.
"He woke up last week and as I was getting them ready for school he said, 'Mommy said she misses us and she said tell grandma not to be mad anymore because she's OK and you're doing a good job.' The boys were late for school that morning because I had to go my room so they wouldn't see me cry."
Whitlock said Fox was a "sweet mother no matter what was going on in her life."
Fox's and Ear's current unsolved murders will be added to the list of other missing and murdered Indigenous women across Canada, which the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls declared a crisis and genocide earlier this year.
The final report from the National Inquiry – compromised of stories from 2,380 family members, survivors of violence, experts and knowledge keepers shared over two years of cross-country public hearing and evidence gathering – revealed deliberate and persistent human and Indigenous rights violations and abuses were the root causes behind the country's staggering rate of violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.
A two-volume report, presented to the Prime Minister in June, delivered 231 Call for Justice directed at governments, institutions, social service providers, industries and Canadians.
“Despite their different circumstances and backgrounds, all of the missing and murdered are connected by economic, social and political marginalization, racism, and misogyny woven into the fabric of Canadian society,” Chief Commissioner Marion Buller said in the press release.
“The hard truth is that we live in a country whose laws and institutions perpetuate violations of fundamental rights, amounting to a genocide against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people.”
The Calls for Justice were presented as legal imperatives as opposed to optional recommendations, outlining transformative actions in health, security, justice and cultural areas including establishing a National Indigenous and Human Rights Ombudsperson and a National Indigenous and Human Rights Tribunal.
The surrounding context for violence was documented in the final report marked by multigenerational and intergenerational trauma and marginalization in the form of poverty, insecure housing or homelessness, barriers to education, employment, health care and cultural support.
The inquiry's press release at the time noted knowledge keepers spoke of specific colonial and patriarchal policies that displaced women from their traditional roles in communities and governance, diminishing their status in society and leaving them vulnerable to violence.
“To put an end to this tragedy, the rightful power and place of women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA people must be reinstated, which requires dismantling the structures of colonialism within Canadian society,” Commissioner Michèle Audette stated in the press release.
“This is not just a job for governments and politicians. It is incumbent on all Canadians to hold our leaders to account.”
For Fox and Ear, the investigation into their deaths continues.
Last year investigators asked for help in identifying anyone using a Saskatchewan-based cell number 306-381-2088 between July 9-10, 2017.
"The phone number was disconnected shortly after the homicides and checks on the subscriber’s information comes back to a fictitious person," the 2018 press release stated.
Police also asked for help in identifying an individual with the nickname, "Bleezy."
Calgary Police Service media relations confirmed investigators are still looking for one more person, but noted because the case is now going before the courts no one could comment further.
"The children, they really miss their moms ... we try and be there for them too, try to comfort and wipe away their tears but they are always going to miss their moms," Ear said.
The trial is scheduled to last 29 days.