The Ghanian community of Manitoba is in shock after a woman from Ghana was discovered dead as she was making her way from the United States to cross the border into Manitoba.
Mavis Otuteye, 57, was first reported missing Thursday after she was last seen in Kittson County, Minn., on May 22.
Members of the Ghanaian community on both the Canadian and American sides of the border have spent the last week searching for Otuteye.
ABOVE: Frank Indome, the vice president of the Ghanian Union of Manitoba, said Mavis Otuteye was coming to Canada presumably to seek a safer life and a better future
On Friday, her body was found in Noyes, Minn., which is less than a kilometre from the Emerson, Man., border. She was found in a shallow body of water in a drainage ditch. Initial autopsy concluded the cause of death was possible hypothermia, though a final autopsy is still pending.
Frank Indome, the vice president of the Ghanian Union of Manitoba, said the entire community is mourning the loss of a member of their community. He said Otuteye was coming to Canada presumably to seek a safer life and a better future.
WATCH: Minnesota State Patrol say Otuteye was most likely headed to Canada, but died along the way
According to authorities she was on foot trying to get to Canada and reunite with her daughter. She had been living in Delaware for the last several years.
“People are just fearful being in the United States and they’re just looking for a safer place a safer refuge,” Indome said.
“It’s not an easy trek. we know people are desperate looking for safer havens and all we can send out there is for people to be more careful if you have any health issues, that doesn’t allow you to make longer trips on foot,” he said. “We basically recommend that you don’t do it.”
There has been a spike in asylum seekers since the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, with the most recent RCMP figures showing 859 people were stopped between official border points in April.
Since Jan. 31, 584 asylum seekers have crossed from the U.S. into Manitoba, according to Rita Chahal from Welcome Place, a local organization that helps house refugees.
“We are deeply, deeply saddened,” Chahal said.
With files from the Candian Press and WDAZ News