Parliament Asked to Create Missing Persons DNA Database

February 8, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Dylan Koshman
Dylan Koshman, who went missing in 2008. Koshman's mother, Melanie Alix, is petitioning Parliament to enact legislation to create a missing persons DNA database. (Courtesy Alix Family)

It was over three years ago that Melanie Alix’s son Dylan Koshman went missing in Edmonton. Despite extensive search efforts by police and volunteers, Koshman, who was 21 at the time, hasn’t been found.

Alix now wants the federal government to create a missing persons DNA database and an unidentified human remains database to help in the search for missing people.

Last week, her MP from the Palliser, Saskatchewan riding, Ray Boughen, presented a petition for which Alix helped collect signatures, asking Parliament to enact legislation to create the database.

“A database containing DNA samples to identify missing persons would benefit the many families dealing with the pain of having a loved one go missing unexplainably,” Boughen said in a statement after presenting the petition to Parliament.

Although MPs presenting petitions on behalf of constituents don’t necessarily need to agree with the contents of the petition, Boughen believes implementing the database is a good idea.

“I would like to see us move forward on this petition and put it into a bill and get it before the House,” he said in a phone interview.

This is not the first time the issue has been presented in Parliament. Former MP Gary Lunn introduced a private members bill in 2003 to amend the DNA Identification Act to have a provision for collecting DNA samples from missing persons. The bill was reintroduced in 2006 by Burlington MP Mike Wallace.

On both occasions, however, the bill didn’t make it to the third reading in Parliament.

Alix says she’s “very optimistic” that what she’s petitioning for will be implemented.

“We have a majority government in right now, which I think is a big help, and they are for justice and crime solving, and I think there’s a big possibility if everybody takes note of how important this is.”

The petition is now before the government which has a 45-day window to respond. The response could be that the issue needs to be examined further and reviewed by different departments and institutions.

“There’s always a number of variables that enter into any of these operations, and whether or not they favour the idea or they don’t think the idea is up for grabs,” Boughen says.

DNA Samples Only Used Locally

Alix says that when local police took DNA samples from her shortly after Koshman went missing in 2008 to help in the search, she didn’t realize the samples wouldn’t be available and used across Canada.

When she later discovered this and learned about B.C. resident Judy Peterson who has been trying to get the government to implement a DNA database for those gone missing after the 1993 disappearance of her daughter Lindsey Nicholls, she decided to take action.

Alix says finding support for the petition in her area wasn’t difficult, as a lot of people in her city of Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, and surrounding areas know about her ordeal and are sympathetic to her cause.

She also made an online petition so that it can be signed across Canada. Close to 1,000 signatures were collected before Boughen presented the petition to Parliament.

Alix says that with so many others in Canada whose family members have gone missing, she’s championing this cause so that she can help other families in a similar situation.

What she’s hoping for in her own case is to find closure.

“We don’t want him to be gone from this world, but yet we want closure if he is.”

People with information about Dylan Koshman’s disappearance are asked to contact the Edmonton Police Service (780-423-4567) or Crimestoppers (1-800-222-TIPS).

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