A week away from Christmas, a Yukon family is asking for one thing: to know what happened to their father.
On Monday the Waugh family made yet another public appeal asking anybody with information about the 2014 murder of 69-year-old Allan Waugh to come forward.
Waugh was found dead at his home in the McIntyre subdivision on May 30, 2014. Police have been investigating the death as a homicide but haven’t charged anybody.
“It’s hard on our families,” Dawn Waugh said. “It’s hard on our kids, especially at this time of the year.”
The family has held marches and distributed flyers in an attempt to get potential witnesses to come forward.
Now they want to take advantage of the new Crime Stoppers program that relaunched last week after a five-year hiatus.
The program passes on anonymous tips to the RCMP. If the tip leads to an arrest, the tipster could collect a cash reward.
The family spoke of the harrowing time since losing their father, and the difficult task of grieving without knowing what happened.
“Your imagination is your worst enemy,” said Rosemary Waugh-Wilson in a Skype interview.
“How did he die? Did he suffer? We don’t know,” she said, her voice breaking.
The family has had to hold off having Allan’s headstone potlatch.
The ceremony, usually held a year after the death of a loved one, signals the end of the grieving process, Rosemary said. At that time a headstone is placed on the grave.
“We’re having a hard time scheduling it because we’re not through the process,” Rosemary said. “I don’t even think we can begin, really, because we don’t know what happened to our dad.”
During the year leading up to the headstone potlatch, the family will work on making gifts that will be offered during the ceremony to those who were there to support the family during that tough time.
“It keeps your mind busy, it helps you get through that year,” Dawn said. “It’s part of the grieving process.”
Because so little is known about Waugh’s death, it’s hard to pinpoint what could be relevant to the investigation. So the Waugh family is urging people with any information — someone they might have seen acting out on that day, for example — to come forward.
Anyone who witnessed Waugh’s death must also be in a tough situation, Teresa said.
“We’ve had lots of support and counselling offered to us,” she said. “This person, they have no option available to them because they’re holding (back) this information. I’m sure they got a pretty terrible memory themselves (of the event).”
Despite the trauma, talking about Allan still brings a smile to Rosemary, Teresa and Dawn’s faces.
A welder by trade, Allan was also a gardener, hunter, a father and a grandfather.
“He liked to be silly with (his grandchildren),” Teresa recalls.
Originally from New Brunswick, Allan moved to the Yukon in the late 1960s.
He met his future wife – Lin – and they had five children.
Unlike his wife, Allan wasn’t of First Nation descent but quickly came to embrace the importance of passing down traditional skills to his children.
“Keeping culture alive in our family was important to (Allan and Lin),” Dawn said.
He was an accomplished welder, first working at Faro’s Anvil mine. In Whitehorse he worked on the Black Street stairs, the Millennium Trail and Rotary Centennial bridges, the dam in Marsh Lake, and Mount Sima’s snow machine.
“I remember him always talking about the snow machine,” said Dawn. “’The snow machine is broken again!’ he would say.”
In the McIntyre subdivision, where he lived most of his life, he would fix appliances for people, usually for free.
“He was a huge part of the community,” Dawn said.
The three sisters want to thank the people who’ve been supporting them, including the Kwanlin Dun First Nation and the RCMP.
“We’ve had lots of support from the officers on Dad’s case,” Teresa said. Police met periodically with the family, giving them whatever information they could share without jeopardizing the investigation.
Often there isn’t a lot they can say, but Teresa says it made a difference knowing the officers were available.
In a week, Allan’s five children, 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren will all gather to open Christmas gifts like they’ve always done.
The sisters have fond memories of the times they all met at their parents’ house to open gifts, even if Christmas cooking wasn’t exactly Allan’s strong suit.
“Mom wouldn’t let him cook,” Rosemary said, laughing.
On top of raising his five children, he also helped raised some of his wife’s siblings, because their mother passed away at a young age.
“There were anywhere from nine to 13 kids living in a three-bedroom house,” Rosemary said. “Anyone who needed a place could stay with my parents.”
Waugh put his heart into his family, his community and the territory, his family said.
In honour of his memory, his family hopes someone will come forward with information, to bring justice for Allan and peace for his mourning family.
To contact Crime Stoppers, visit crimestoppersyukon.ca or call 1-800-222-8477. Yukon RCMP can be reached at 867-667-5555.
Contact Pierre Chauvin at email@example.com