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Story of Frances Ellah

Frances May Ellah (Cook), 59, from Sagkeeng First Nation, Manitoba, is remembered by her daughter as quiet-natured and pretty.


On June 15, 1975, she was found severely injured in a stairwell of a Winnipeg apartment building. She succumbed to her injuries in hospital. An autopsy revealed she had a fractured skull, bleeding in the brain stem and a “star shaped laceration” on the back of her head from a “blunt force object,” newspapers reported.


City police concluded Ellah was intoxicated and her injuries were likely the result of a fall. A pathologist, however, said the bleeding in the brain stem was unusual for a fall and a possible indicator of foul play.


In 1975, an inquest was called into Ellah’s death but the judge could not determine if she died as the result of an accident or foul play. He recommended police continue to investigate her cause of death, but the case remains unsolved. In an email to CBC, a spokesperson for the Winnipeg Police Service said investigators will “examine the findings of detectives in the original investigation.”