Mandy Metallic of Mi’gmaq Listuguj First Nation, Que. has been looking for answers in the woods in Sackville, N.B. for ten years.
It’s where her son, Chris Mackenzie Metallic, went missing when he was 20 years old.
“He can’t just vanish in the middle of the woods and then there’s no trace of anything,” said Mandy Metallic.
Chris went missing after a party in the early hours of Nov. 25, 2012. He was in his third year at Mount Allison University in Sackville, N.B., located about 370 km east of Listuguj. He left his phone and shoes behind at the party and wandered off alone.
His brother Spencer Isaac, who was also attending Mount Allison at the time, called his mom at 8:30 p.m. that night to tell her he couldn’t find Chris.
Mandy called the RCMP right away, but after hours of waiting for a call back, she decided to make the four-hour drive out to Sackville at midnight. The RCMP called her back at 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 26, notifying her Chris was officially considered missing since 24 hours had elapsed since he was last seen.
Tanner Isaac, Chris’s other brother, was in grade 10 when he went missing.
“I figured I’d wake up the next morning, they’d be like they found him, it’s just Chris being Chris you know, he needed some time alone,” said Tanner Isaac.
“The next day, my mom’s already gone to Sacksville, and my dad’s telling me ‘all right, just pack your stuff, we’re going,’ and I think that’s when realization kind of hit is when I saw so many of my community members from here, in Sackville helping out.”
Tanner said when his brother didn’t turn up – his world was shattered.
“That’s the hard part, is seeing everybody just fall apart. Because we’re so lost, and we don’t know what to do anymore,” he said.
A witness reported to the RCMP that he saw someone matching Chris’s description walking into Upper Aboujagane Road, a forest road, at 5:30 a.m. in flip flops carrying two reflective driveway markers.
He called the police to investigate, but when they arrived 45 minutes later, Chris had disappeared into the woods.
Chris’s path was traced by the RCMP into the woods down White Birch Road. But ultimately, all roads led to nowhere.
“You could tell he was getting lost, he was going back and forth, back and forth,” said Mandy.
His prints eventually led to Tantramar River where tracking dogs lost his scent. The river was later searched by divers.
“Some officers said [that] maybe he did fall in and get washed out to the bay, the dam was opening that night, and another officer said, ‘we think he’s still in the woods somewhere,’ so that’s where we’ve always been searching, that same area back up and down that road,” said Mandy.
Mandy has combed over the road where footprints presumed to belong to Chris’s were identified.
“It’s all I’m focused on, I don’t do anything else,” said Mandy. “When I’m home, I’m planning what to do next, and when we’re there, we’re searching.”
Metallic said she fondly remembers her son as “always trying to be funny, hyper.”
“He was very active when he was young, and then he got into sports and that helped a lot,” she said.
Chris’ disappearance was felt back home
Chris touched the lives of many including former chief of Listuguj, Darcy Gray.
“Chris going missing is has been hard on the community, it’s been hard on a lot of us,” said Gray. “My own connection with Chris is I’ve known him since he was a kid, I coached him basketball for a number of years.”
Both Mandy and Tanner said they felt the RCMP put in their best efforts to find Chris.
“The RCMP are really helpful and it’s surprising because just you know being Indigenous it’s, you feel a little hesitant with getting help from them, but they’ve helped out so much with getting like helicopters and searchers and divers and everything,” said Tanner Isaac.
Desperate to find her son, Mandy has conducted innumerable searches. She spent tens of thousands of dollars on trips to Sackville, searching with cadaver dogs, divers, drones and even helicopters.
“Giving up’s not an option and you still have to live, I have other kids, we live here, and it’s so far away,” said Mandy Metallic.
Tanner has since bonded with Chris’s friends who have helped him deal with his brother’s absence.
“When we hang out we just sit there, sometimes, and just tell good stories about him and, we never dwell. We reminisce,” he said.
The community rallied for Chris. Listuguj residents drove up to Sackville to help search raised funds and held vigils.
“The community support was overwhelming in a good way, because Chris knew a lot of people, and he was friends with so many people,” said Tanner.
“He never had bad blood with anybody, so to see all of his friends and just community members come out and help us was amazing.”
Ten years later…
Even now, the community participated in Mandy’s fundraiser to pay for new billboards that will be posted on the ten-year anniversary.
“As a community we do what we do. We support, we help, and even several years later it still feels fresh and it’s still hard to talk about and he’s still in our hearts,” said Gray.
Despite previous positive encounters with the RCMP, Mandy Metallic says she hasn’t heard from the RCMP in months. But that won’t stop her from searching for closure on the well-trodden road in Sackville.
“I feel like I need to keep his disappearance out there for, so he’s not forgotten,” said Mandy.
APTN News contacted the New Brunswick division of the RCMP and hasn’t received a response, but CTV reported that the RCMP considers this to be an active missing persons case and foul play is not suspected.
Mount Allison will hold a traditional sweat in honour of Chris on Nov. 24. The next day, a sacred fire will be lit on campus to commemorate his disappearance.