In the 1970s a young Cree girl from Canada was taken from her family and adopted in the United States.
Her name was Cleo.
Her family would never see her again.
One day she was living as part of the Little Pine First Nation in the province of Saskatchewan. The next day she was gone.
The only proof they had of her existence was a tiny, grainy school photo.
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For a long time they believed she was raped and murdered while trying to hitchhike back home.
They had no idea where she was, whether she had been buried, or if anyone had been charged with her murder.
They wouldn’t find out the truth until at least forty years later when her younger sister, Christine, contacted Connie Walker from the Missing and Murdered podcast.
Walker, a Cree woman herself, had already shone some light on the countless missing and murdered Indigenous women in the first season of her podcast.
She then decided to take on Cleo’s case.
To give some context, in the 1970s many Cree children, like Cleo and her siblings, were taken from their parents, displayed in newspaper advertisements, and sent to live with white adoptive parents throughout North America.
This forced adoption was part of a controversial program called ‘Adopt Indians and Metis’.
Many of the children would never return to their communities. Instead, they would become assimilated into the white community that adopted them and lose all contact with their family members.
Cleo’s story is not unusual. Many Indigenous people in Canada and the United States have no idea what happened to their brothers and sisters, their parents, and even their own children.
What is unusual though is that Cleo’s family finally got some answers.
As part of the nine-episode series, Walker interviewed Cleo’s siblings Christine, April and Johnny. Together they scoured through old photos and documents in attempt to find any clues about Cleo’s whereabouts.
After a lot of digging, Walker was able to locate Cleo’s final resting place.
She was then able to tell the family what really happened to their sister, finally giving them some much needed closure.
You can listen to all eight episodes of Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo on iTunes.