Tiki Brook-Lyn Shirley Laverdiere’s body was found in a rural area outside of North Battleford on July 11, 2019. Her family members spoke after an Oct. 6, 2020, preliminary hearing for Jesse Sangster, one of 10 people charged in connection to her murder.
“We don’t want to be here but we want to show she mattered, she is so loved and even though it’s so far away from home we will do anything to be here to show that,” said Tiki’s older sister Charlee Laverdiere outside the North Battleford Provincial Court.
Tiki’s younger sister Rokaya Laverdiere expressed outrage that Nicole Cook, who is also charged with Tiki’s murder, betrayed Tiki.
“Tiki didn’t like to leave her comfort zone and she came here for Nicole, to support Nicole.”
Nicole Cook is the mother of Tristen Cook-Buckle whose funeral Tiki attended at Thunderchild First Nation in April 2019. His death was ruled a homicide and Edmonton Police are investigating.
The two Laverdiere sisters said they were disgusted that Nicole Cook, before she was arrested for murder, feigned concern for Tiki on Facebook and to reporters when Tiki was missing and before her body was found.
Cook told CBC in June 2019 that Tiki was a close family friend and asked whoever was responsible for her disappearance to come forward. Cook also said Tiki was one of Tristen’s best friends.
On May 21, 2019, Cook posted on Facebook: “Love you Tiki with all of me its strange not having you here ! Im still holding on to hope your coming through the door this is tragically (expletive) up ! I love you and i feel like i let you both down ! Tristen and you !”
Tiki was reported missing to Battlefords RCMP May 12, 2019. Her family last heard from her on May 1, 2019.
On April 30, 2019, Tiki posted to Facebook: “Anyone going to Edmonton from north battleford? Inbox me plz!”
Tiki’s mother, Carol Laverdiere, has attended the preliminary hearing, but not every day.
“It’s hard for her to sit there,” said Charlee.
The Saskatoon RCMP Major Crimes Unit and North Battleford prosecutions office warned the family it may be difficult to listen to the information of the case in court. Still, they weren’t prepared for what they would hear about Tiki’s death.
“Not the details,” said Charlee. “It’s difficult.”
Eight members of Tiki’s family from Edmonton are staying in North Battleford for the three-week preliminary hearing.
“We’re trying to stay the entire time,” said Charlee.
Sangster, 23, of Edmonton, is charged with first-degree murder. He is also charged with kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body, and theft of a vehicle. Sangster, on Facebook, called Cook-Buckle his brother. Cook-Buckle’s obituary says that Sangster is his brother. The obit also said another accused, Samuel Takakenew, is Cook-Buckle’s uncle. Mavis Takakenew, also charged for Tiki’s murder, is the mother of Samuel Takakenew, according to RCMP. And a family member told CBC that Mavis Takakenew is the mother of Nicole Cook.
Seven people were charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, improperly interfering with a human body, and theft of a vehicle. They include Sangster, Soaring Eagle Whitstone, 33, of Onion Lake Cree Nation, Shayla Orthner, 27, of North Battleford, Danita Thomas, 32, of North Battleford, Nicole Cook, 37, of Edmonton, Nikita Sandra Cook, 32, of Edmonton, and Charles St. Savard, 33, of Edmonton.
Three people were charged with accessory to murder after the fact. They include Brent Checkosis, 18, of North Battleford, Mavis Quinn Takakenew, 55, of North Battleford, and Samuel Takakenew, 36, of Edmonton.
Two of the 10 charged have been sentenced for their part in Laverdiere’s murder. Brent Checkosis was sent to prison for seven years on charges of accessory after the fact to murder. Mavis Takakenew was given 18 months on the same charge. With credit for time served while waiting for her trial, Takakenew has already been released from prison. There is a ban on publication on the sentencing hearings for Checkosis and Takakenew until the trials of all the co-accused are finished.
None of the charges against Sangster have been proven in court.
Crown Prosecutors Chris Browne and Charlotte Mordan have called 10 people to the stand so far. Defence Rebecca Crookshanks from Prince Albert is representing Sangster. The evidence presented at the hearing is protected under a publication ban.
Thunderchild First Nation is 113 kilometres northwest of North Battleford.
The preliminary hearing is scheduled to continue until Oct. 16.
Story updated Oct. 7, 12:51 p.m.