Losing a family member is difficult.
Losing the entire Jack family is inconceivable. It is the first and only case in Canadian history where an entire family has gone missing. It’s as if the Jack family never existed, after 29 years on the missing persons list.
But they did exist.
They have left behind a grieving and confused family who hurt just as much today as they did 29 years ago after being told Ronnie, Doreen and their two children, nine year old, Russell and four year old, Ryan could not be found.
On August 1, 1989, an eyewitness said the Jack family met a tall, 35 to 40 year old male at the First Litre Pub in Prince George. It was estimated the caucasian man stood six feet to six feet by five inches high and weighed approximately 200 to 275 pounds.
The man was described as hefty, but not fat. Ronnie Jack, was five feet by six inches and weighed 150 pounds. Doreen was a slight woman, who stood five feet by two inches and weighed 111 pounds. Both Ronnie and Doreen would have been dwarfed by comparison.
The unidentified man Ronnie Jack met that fateful night reportedly had red hair to the bottom of his ears which was parted to one side. He had a moustache, a short beard and was wearing a cap, a red checkered work shirt, faded blue jeans, a blue, waist-length nylon jacket and work boots with leather fringes over the toes.
The man offered the Jacks’ a job in a logging camp five miles past Bednesti in the Cluculz Lake area. Doreen was assured daycare would be provided at the camp for her two young boys.
The missing family belonged to the Cheslatta Carrier Nation and had lived on the south side of Burns Lake. On August 2, 1989, Ronnie Jack phoned his mom, Mabel, from the Cluculz Lake area to share the good news and let her know the family would be leaving their Strathcona residence to begin work immediately.
They would be gone for ten days Ronnie told her, but had plans to return in time for their eldest son Russell to start the new school year.
At that moment it must have been a happy occasion.
What followed was a nightmare.
The Jack family was never heard from again. On August 25, 1989, they were officially reported missing.
After 29 years one can only imagine how much Mabel misses her son and his family. Their smiles, their warm embrace, the ability to share a family meal and the greatest pleasure a grandmother can know – watching those two small boys turn into men and perhaps even make her a great-grandmother one day.
Maria Jack, Doreen’s younger sister, never stops thinking about her missing sister and nephews.
“I miss our phone conversations. We talked about everything. Our experience at the Lejac residential school [just outside of Fraser Lake] and our childhood,” said Maria. “Doreen had a good sense of humour and she always tried to turn a bad situation into a positive one. She always watched out for me and our other sister Loreen. She always made sure we were okay.”
“29 years is too long. It is so heavy on my heart and everyday I pray to the Creator to bring them home,” Maria said.
Over the years, the Vanderhoof RCMP detachment have received a number of anonymous tips. One tip was traced the Stoney Creek area.
Last week, RCMP sent out another bulletin asking [again] for a tipper to come forward – one wonders if this is the same person – This tipper both telephoned and sent an anonymous letter to a third party.
“This is a tip we would like to follow-up on,” said Cpl. Craig Douglass, Communications NCO/Media Liaison Officer in Prince George. Douglass would not confirm if the recent bulletin was the result of a new tip, “It is another tip, not the original one called in to the Vanderhoof precinct.”
At this point the case remains unsolved. Both of Doreen’s parents passed away never knowing what happened to their loved ones.
It is difficult to imagine the torture the Jack family relatives have endured for the past 29 years. Things just don’t happen without someone, somewhere, knowing something about it.
It is this person the relatives of the Jack family (and the RCMP) are begging to come forward – if not to the police, then by reaching out to someone trustworthy; a person who can shoulder the burden of the knowledge you have.
Whoever you are you may have the power to help solve the biggest mystery in Canadian history – to become a hero – by bringing the Jack family home and offering closure to the desperate relatives who have suffered for nearly three decades – in ways that words can’t describe and minds can’t imagine.
This is your call to action. If you are the tipper it is time to do the right thing.