Canada

Vigil held for 18-year-old Smithers woman after human remains found

Friends and family mourned an 18-year-old Smithers woman who had been missing for more than two weeks after human remains were found.

A vigil for Jessica Balczer, who was reported missing on Sept. 3, will be held at Boville Square in Smithers at 3 p.m. on Sunday.

On Sunday, Smithers RCMP said they are investigating the discovery of human remains. Police said identification is underway, but members of the community have identified the victim on social media as Patrick.

“It was a big shock to everybody that this happened, her being so young,” said Dianna Johansen, a Smithers resident, of Balczer’s sudden disappearance.

Now that the worst outcome has been confirmed, “there’s a lot of shock, outrage, anger, sadness. All the emotions of a loss,” she said.

Johansen, who received confirmation from a family member about Balczer’s death last night, asked the family for permission to conduct the vigil and a drumming ceremony in Balczer’s honour.

She is asking attendees to wear red as a reminder of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

Johansen said she hopes the vigil is a gesture of support to Balczer’s family during this time. “We’re praying for strength and courage for the family … and to show them community support, that they’re not alone.”

Balczer, a member of the Lake Babine First Nation, was last seen leaving the Mountain View motel in Smithers in the early morning of Aug. 31. She was last seen wearing a black sweater, dark pants, black shoes and carrying a brown purse.

She has a young child.

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