The sister of Tanya Brooks is hoping for good news soon from the Halifax Regional Police regarding her murder nine years ago.
“All that I know is that there’s been activity and that’s where we stand,” Vanessa Brooks said following a memorial walk she organized for her older sister. “It’s not a cold case.”
On Thursday, approximately 30 people took part in the annual walk in Halifax for Tanya Brooks, a Mi’kmaw woman from the Millbrook First Nation, N.S. The group marched in the rain and wind from the Mi’kmaw Native Friendship Centre to St. Patrick’s Alexandra School where Tanya’s body was found on May 11, 2009.
Tanya’s family, including her surviving children, embraced each other while they stood at the spot where she was found dead. A ceremony was held at the site which included several women with hand drums singing traditional songs.
“It was hard to go back to the place that is so, I hate to say the word, dirty, but that’s how it feels. But today, it changed.” Vanessa Brooks explained.
“We took something that was really horrific and horrible and we brought light to it. We brought love. We brought support.”
Keeping Tanya’s story alive “a challenge” – Vanessa Brooks
Before Tanya Brooks, 36, died, she was homeless and struggling with an addiction to drugs and alcohol. All five of her children were taken away and placed in foster homes.
According to Halifax Regional Police, Tanya was last seen leaving police headquarters on Gottingen Street shortly after 8 p.m. on May 10, 2009.
Vanessa Brooks talked about her sister when the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls held community hearings in Membertou First Nation, N.S. Oct. 30 – Nov. 1, 2017. She told commissioner Qajaq Robinson that Tanya was trying her best to regain custody of her children before she was killed.
“Keeping Tanya’s story alive, that has been a challenge,” Vanessa Brooks said. “She has been depicted in a very, very dirty way and not humanized.”
“She was a loving mother. She had a kind heart. That’s how she should be remembered because that’s how we remember her,” she said.
The memorial walk for Tanya Brooks has taken place annually in Halifax on the anniversary of her death. Tanya’s mother, Connie Brooks, organized the walks until she died in September 2015. Vanessa then took over organizing the annual event.
“I didn’t ask to be on this path but I am on this path and I’m not going to stop,” she said.
The Nova Scotia Department of Justice is offering a reward of up to $150,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or people involved in Tanya’s murder.
Vanessa Brooks still holds out hope that someone will come forward with information about her sister’s death.
“You have a conscience. If it’s eating at you. If it’s bothering you, just come forward,” she said.
“Give us that chance to have that closure. Give these kids a chance. Their mother passed away.”