Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Neighbours mourn death of city woman

Body found by play structure

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A candlelight vigil Sunday in the windless grip of a winter's night drew 30 or more teenagers and toddlers to the children's play structure where a body was found.

It was a sombre expression of grief in a frozen courtyard of a Manitoba Housing complex in Tuxedo.

Friends and neighbours said they are fairly certain they know the identity of the woman whose remains were found, but authorities have yet to confirm her identity or the cause of her death.

There were more questions than answers in the circle Sunday night.

People stood in silence as they remembered their neighbour and planted their candles in the snow in front of a potted pine at the complex's play structure.

A resident of the Manitoba Housing complex on Doncaster Street found the body of a woman in the complex's courtyard just before 10 a.m. Saturday.

Police arrived soon afterward and placed a tarp over the body, which was accompanied by a large, white purse and several cans of Labatt Extra Dry beer.

After police taped off the courtyard, as well as some of the units in the ethnically diverse complex, shaken residents tried to piece together what happened the previous evening.

Residents say at least two parties took place overnight in different parts of the complex, which sits between Doncaster and Edgeland streets, south of Tuxedo Avenue.

Deb LaPlante said she and her neighbours are fairly certain the deceased woman is Nadia Fiddler, 33.

She celebrated a birthday last week and lived in one of the complex's housing units with her boyfriend, a man suffering from Crohn's disease who did not attend the vigil.

On Sunday, the Winnipeg Police Service was still not ready to confirm the woman's identity, said Const. Jason Michalyshen.

It was also uncertain whether the she succumbed to exposure, foul play or a combination of factors.

Police are awaiting the results of an autopsy, although a spokesman said right now there's nothing to indicate foul play.

While authorities aren't ready to identify the woman, her family, originally from Garden Hill First Nation, attended the vigil.

The relatives -- two women and a man -- quietly walked toward the centre of the complex, where the candles lit up the snow, and stood in silence. The man identified himself as the husband of one of the two women and said both were Fiddler's aunts.

He did not give their names.

They declined comment and, after a soft exchange in Oji-Cree, the man quietly picked up a braid of sweet grass left in the snow and a lit taper candle.

"They wanted answers," LaPlante said afterward of the relatives' arrival.

She said she and the woman's cousin, who also lived at the complex, are heartbroken.

Some neighbours reported hearing shouts at about 3 a.m. Another described someone banging on the door of their unit about 4 a.m.

Her neighbours remember Fiddler as a free spirit, fun-loving and generous with her money.

She was careful about her appearance and always well-dressed.

In the snow, next to the candles and the potted pine, kids and adults left behind children's stuffed animals.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 4, 2013 A3

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