Sask. First Nation, RCMP continue search for 5-year-old missing for 64 days

Indigenous leaders call for government resources to assist in the ongoing search as Frank Young's family speak out for the first time since his disappearance on April 19, 2022. Supplied by Saskatchewan RCMP

Red Earth Cree Nation chief Fabian Head said the family of missing five-year-old Frank Young is still optimistic and hopeful their son will be found.

Young went missing on April 19 near his home on Red Earth Cree Nation.

Read more: Pleas to find 5-year-old Frank Young continue as family speaks out for first time

Red Earth Cree nation is located more than 200 kilometres east of Prince Albert, Sask.

Head said the search is still being labeled as a rescue mission rather than a recovery mission at the request of family and that searchers from Red Earth Cree Nation and neighbouring community Shoal Lake Cree Nation continue to look for Young.

Head said some equipment used in searching efforts have begun to break down and are need in service.

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Click to play video: 'Search for missing Saskatchewan 5-year-old boy enters fourth day' Search for missing Saskatchewan 5-year-old boy enters fourth day
Search for missing Saskatchewan 5-year-old boy enters fourth day – Apr 22, 2022

In the last two weeks, Head said the search has primarily been focused on an upstream body of water locally known as “the Y.”

“This focus is a result of spiritual knowledge keepers (calling) for the area to be searched again,” Head said.

“The Y” is approximately five to eight kilometres downstream from the community.

So far, the search has covered approximately 92 square kilometres with 611 searchers.

Read more: Nationwide Indigenous alert system ‘is really dire and critically needed’

The community is also reeling from six deaths and two stillborn losses since just before Young went missing.

Prince Albert Grand Council as well as the local child and family services organizations have been providing mental health support for families.

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Head said they continue to welcome volunteers to help with the search and call on the federal and provincial governments for support and resources.

An awareness and support walk was held on Tuesday morning to let people know the community is still searching for Young.

“I know the family is still optimistic and very hopeful that Frank will be found soon,” Head said.

Shoal Lake Cree Nation Chief Marcel Head said he visited the family recently and Frank’s disappearance is devastating to them.

“I was talking to one of the relatives, they mentioned that sometimes their thoughts are overwhelming and feelings overwhelm them, not being able to find Frank,” Marcel said.

Carrot River RCMP detachment commander Sgt. Richard Tonge said the RCMP has used all resources and technology available to them to search for Young.

“The RCMP does not have further aerial boat searches scheduled to take place at this time. The air and boat searches will now be conducted as new information comes in and must be investigated,” Tonge said.

The latest aerial search conducted by helicopter took place on June 11. RCMP boat searches were completed up until June 17.

As the river has started to recede, Saskatchewan RCMP tactical support group is expected to travel to the community this weekend “to conduct a thorough, targeted search” of the river banks.

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One of group’s goals is to try and locate any items that may be associated with Young.

Read more: Community mourns Madison Roy-Boudreau one year after disappearance

“Frank is a missing person and we remain committed to locating him to bring him home.”

Tonge said they continue to encourage the public to share any information about Frank’s whereabouts.

Anyone who finds items of interest such as clothing that seems out of place should contact Carrot River RCMP immediately.

Request to deploy rangers denied by Canadian forces

Tonge said the RCMP submitted a request to Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) to deploy rangers to help with the search but he said the request was denied.

“The rationale is rangers are generally deployed in 100 kilometres of their own community. That’s where they have their local knowledge and expertise,” Tonge said.

“We do not have a ranger element within 400 kilometres of Red Earth Cree Nation so the decision was made by Canadian Armed Forces that they would not have deployed rangers in this incident.

In a statement sent to Global News, spokesperson Jessica Lamirande said after consulting with the RCMP, “the CAF determined that our resources were not best placed to provide assistance.”

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“Our thoughts are with Red Earth Cree Nation at this difficult time,” Lamirande said.

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) vice-chief Dutch Lerat clarified some rangers helped “unofficially.”

“The rangers were involved from La Ronge area and further north, that came down to the community. They worked with knowledge keepers on the lay of the land,” Lerat said.

— with files from Global News’ Jeanelle Mandes

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