Traci Genereaux’s remains were found on a farm on Salmon River Road near Silver Creek in October 2017. No charges have been laid to date in connection to the 18-year-old’s death. (Contributed)

Traci’s Gift: Grandmother honours Vernon teen’s memory with fund for local families

Family of Traci Genereaux to sponsor families in need during Christmas

For Darcy Martin, no day goes by without feelings of profound pain over the loss of her granddaughter, Traci Genereaux.

At 18 years old, Genereaux was declared missing in May 2017. On Oct. 21 of that year, her remains were found on a farm on Salmon River Road near Silver Creek. Police consider the death suspicious, but nearly three years later, no charges have been laid.

“Just to think of all the things that were taken from her,” Martin said. “Constantly it’s in our heads.”

The wait for answers has been agonizing for the family, who don’t even know the exact date of her death.

And even when answers come their way, Martin wonders if it will make the pain any easier.

“Does it get easier with time? I don’t know. You have to try to learn to live with it as time goes on,” she said, her voice cracking.

The pain will be even more pronounced on Oct. 4, what would have been Genereaux’s 22nd birthday. But rather than try to forget what can’t be forgotten, Martin wants the day to stand in memory of her granddaughter’s generosity.

To that end, she and the family are sponsoring local families for the coming Christmas season.

Called Traci’s Gift, the initiative will see Martin gather donations, identify families in need, draw up a list of items according to those needs, and deliver presents and food hampers come Christmas time.

“She loved Christmas and she loved giving. She was a very, very giving person. She’d give you the shirt off her back,” Martin said. “So I thought, what better thing to do this year than this.”

READ MORE: Searchers don’t lose hope of finding signs of missing women in North Okanagan-Shuswap

Beyond her instinct for giving, Martin says Genereaux was bubbly and “crazy comedic.” She had a passion for animals – especially ducks – and was an avid cook. She loved being outdoors, climbing the surrounding trees, hills and rocks. She was feisty but kindhearted; if you did something wrong she would tell you straight, and then apologize for it the next day.

To put it simply, she was full of life.

Martin guesses there will be many tears as she brings the presents to the families.

“But it’s also going to be a good feeling, because we’re doing it for her,” she said.

Martin is starting off the initiative with $100, and invites anyone who would like to donate to contact her at 250-260-6570, or through Facebook.

“I’ll go and check all the places I have to, to find out who is most in need,” she said, adding she’ll keep track of all the people who donate as well as the purchases she makes, so people can ask what the money went towards if they wish.

Those who wish to donate are asked to get in touch sooner rather than later, as the number of families supported will depend on the funds Martin has to work with. She said if it turns out well, she’ll continue Traci’s Gift on an annual basis.

Genereaux was one of five women to go missing in the region between the spring of 2016 and the fall of 2017.

Caitlin Potts, 27, was last seen in February 2016 in Kelowna and Enderby; Ashley Simpson, 31, was last seen in April 2016 on Yankee Flats Road near Silver Creek. Deanna Wertz, 46, was also reported missing from the Yankee Flats Road area in July 2016; Nicole Bell, then 32, went missing in September 2017 from the Sicamous area.

Anyone with information on any of the missing women, or in relation to Traci Genereaux’s death, are urged to contact their local RCMP.

READ MORE: Orange Shirt Society launches first textbook on residential school history

Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
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