No tree, no lights and few presents – it wasn’t the Christmas the Bali family were hoping for, as the search continues for their missing daughter and sister Mekayla.
But they have been given the gift of hope as the new year dawns.
There has been another potential sighting of the missing now 17-year-old, who was last seen at Yorkton’s bus depot back in April.
Recently, a girl matching Mekayla’s description was seen on the Skytrain in Vancouver.
RCMP confirm they have received the tip and it is part of the ongoing investigation.
Mekayla’s mother Paula welcomes every possible sighting, however gut-wrenching it can be, a glimpse of hope which so often in the search has led to disappointment.
“You know, we will follow the tips where ever they may lead us,” Bali said. “People who turn in tips, quite honestly they’re my hero, because without people looking and seeking and being willing, you know it takes courage to call the authorities and say I saw her.”
Paula admits in a country and province the size of Canada and Saskatchewan it feels at times “like searching for a needle in a haystack”.
She travelled to Vancouver in the fall, putting up posters and canvassing the streets, as many of the tips have indicated Mekayla is on the west coast. But Paula maintains she will head east if needed.
At this point, RCMP still believe Mekayla is alive and are offering a $25,000 reward for any tip that leads to her whereabouts.
“We are very hopeful and anxious, but the new year is a time to begin again.”