Megan Gallagher's family highlights need for support as 9th suspect identified in homicide investigation

A poster seeking information about the disappearance of Megan Gallagher is seen taped to a post in downtown Saskatoon.   (Kendall Latimer/CBC - image credit)
A poster seeking information about the disappearance of Megan Gallagher is seen taped to a post in downtown Saskatoon. (Kendall Latimer/CBC - image credit)

Brian Gallagher says it's been difficult to process the latest update from police about the investigation into his daughter's suspected death.

On Wednesday, police announced they were seeking a ninth and final suspect in the Megan Gallagher homicide case.

"It's overwhelming, when you think of the numbers," Brian said outside Saskatoon's provincial courthouse on Thursday. "The number that disturbs me the most is one woman and nine people so far."

Police have already arrested eight people in connection with the case. They face a range of charges, including first-degree murder, assault, confinement and indignity to a human body. Some of the accused had court matters scheduled for Thursday. They were adjourned forward.

A ninth suspect, 24-year-old Summer-Sky Henry, is now wanted for first-degree murder.

"It's exhausting, it's challenging. It breaks your heart and breaks your soul and takes you to some pretty dark places sometimes," he said. "[We] try not to go there, try to stay positive and remember all of the people that are supporting us."

Calls for support, action 

Megan's mother, Ingrid MacColl, emphasized the need for formal support for people affected by this alleged murder and the justice process.

"I find so much is focused on the accused, where are the supports for our families and friends? Government representatives, First Nations, Métis representatives need to step up."

Kendall Latimer/CBC
Kendall Latimer/CBC

Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations third vice chief Aly Bear joined Gallagher's supporters outside court on Thursday.

She spoke broadly about the need to address violence within Indigenous communities.

"Our people are released from the criminal justice system after they're affiliated with gangs or drugs, and there's no healing process for them. They're released back into our communities where they continue to create violence," she said. "It's not about rehabilitation."

Bear said lateral violence seen in the community stems from intergenerational problems created by colonialism and residential schools.

She called on the government to fund the revitalization of traditional Indigenous governance, restorative justice systems, mental health and treatment centres.

"But driven by First Nation people, not driven by a colonial regime," she said. "Viewed from an Indigenous perspective: our ceremonies, our languages."

She noted the solidarity shown for Indigenous people last week as people wore orange and showed up to events on the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

"We need to do more than symbolic gestures. We need to move forward and we need to implement the TRC calls to action, the 231 calls to justice from the MWMIWG inquiry."

Brian Gallagher said he hopes he and his family members can use their own experiences to support other families grappling with the loss of a missing or murdered loved one.

"The lessons that we have learned may be of value to somebody somewhere down the road and if we can provide any kind of support for them, that's part of Megan's legacy."

Last week, police launched a search for human remains as part of their investigation into Gallagher's alleged murder. They found remains just hours into the search. Her family is still waiting on forensic results to confirm the identity, but said earlier this week they believe Megan had been found.

Brian also thanked people who have been "breaking the silence" and providing information to police to move the investigation into his daughter's disappearance forward.

"There are warriors out there that speak up and they are the people that need to be commended."