In years past, Nov. 2 was a happy time.
Festivities would have been underway as Jane Aubertin and her family celebrated a special birthday.
This year, Aubertin will instead light a single candle and think about her daughter, Nicole Bell, who hasn’t been seen or heard from for three years. This year would have been the celebration of Nicole’s 35th birthday.
Nicole Bell is one of four women in the Shuswap who went missing over the course of eight months between February 2016 and September 2017. She was last seen on Sept. 2, 2017 in Sicamous.
“It’s been going on for over three years now – our family has been stressed out. Halloween is coming up, it’s our favourite time of the year and Nicole’s birthday is right after it,” Aubertin said.
“She would have been 35 this year, she is 35 this year,” she said correcting the past tense. “I still hope, it is still 50/50, we’re still holding out.”
So far, no word, no clues.
Aubertin keeps in touch with police but they have nothing new to tell her at this time.
She is also connected to the parents of the other missing Shuswap women via social media.
It was on Feb. 21, 2016, that Caitlin Potts, who lived in Enderby, was last seen. On April 27 of that year, Ashley Simpson was gone. On July 19, 2016, Deanna Wertz was last seen. Both Simpson and Wertz lived on Yankee Flats Road on the outskirts of Silver Creek, which is near Salmon Arm. The remains of 18-year-old Traci Genereaux from Vernon were found in October 2017 on a Silver Creek farm during a police search.
No charges have been laid in connection with her death.
When Aubertin saw there was to be a protest on Oct. 26 outside the farm on Salmon River Road in Silver Creek where Curtis Sagmoen lives, she considered driving from Alberta to show her support.
The protest, to have occurred after police issued an Oct. 21 public warning to persons involved in the sex trade to not respond to requests for service in the Salmon River Road area, was cancelled due to slippery roads. Police also released a photo of Sagmoen, who has been convicted of assaulting and threatening sex trade workers.
Aubertin said she has not heard of any connection with her daughter and the escort business or Curtis Sagmoen.
Over the summer, Aubertin said she spent time with her grandkids, Nicole’s children, who are 14, nine and seven.
“We spent good quality time with them.”
She said the kids are doing okay but of course miss their mom and want her home.
“They’re the reason why we keep going,” she said, referring to herself and her spouse Dennis. “To get answers, to see what’s going on, to do our best to be there for them.”
Anger is another emotion Aubertin has been dealing with. Thinking about the fact that someone knows what happened to her daughter and is simply not telling.
“I’m sad that my grandkids have to go on not knowing. How one human being can do this to another human being is beyond comprehension. How somebody can be so cruel. I can’t comprehend that.”
Aubertin does not want her daughter forgotten and hopes people will contact police with what they know.
“I hope people come forward and, if they’re out and about and see something, please report it, something is better than nothing.”
She points out that although Nicole’s birthday is almost here, so is another difficult occasion.
“Christmas is coming around the corner, think of her as well,” she said. “Keep her in mind, keep her in your hearts.”