Although Pope Francis made a monumental apology for the Catholic Church’s role in residential schools, a different cloud hung over the Indigenous community in Saskatoon.
Dawn Walker, 48, and her son were reported missing Sunday night after friends were unable to reach them.
“It was a daily thing to hear from her, or give her a call.” says Bobby Cameron, the chief of FSIN. “So everyone knew something was wrong.”
Walker has been with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) for almost a decade, and those closet to her say this was out of character.
“You feel it in your gut. When you feel it in your heart when someone is missing, when they didn’t respond, when they didn’t communicate when they usually do.” says Cameron.
Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) didn’t issue an official Amber Alert, saying the situation didn’t meet the criteria.
“The missing person has to be under the age of 18, or an individual with a proven mental or physical disability.” says Randy Huisman, deputy chief of the Saskatoon police. “And then investigation has confirmed either an abduction by a stranger, or an abduction where circumstances lead to believe the abducted is in danger of bodily harm or death.
FSIN Treaty Commissioner Mary Culbertson says this doesn’t do enough to find missing people, especially in the indigenous community.
“We have to do it ourselves. My dad used to tell me, ‘no ones going to come save you my girl, you got to do it on your own.’ So that’s what FSIN did, they did it on their own.”
“The provincial system, the government system, it doesn’t work for us (Indigenous people). It never did. It not meant for us, and that’s the things Dawn worked on.”
Police said Walker’s red F-150 was located by RCMP at Chief Whitecap Park early Monday morning, just south of the city. Also located at the scene were some personal belongings. They say they’re coordinating efforts to search the area.
“We have a drone here that just arrived now, we have police dog service coming, we have air resources that we’re mobilizing, as well as a water search.” says Greg Abbott, staff sergeant for the RCMP.
Walker is described as five-feet-five-inches tall with a medium build, blond hair and brown eyes.
Both sides are asking the public to come forward with any information that may help find Walker and her son.
“I’m just begging for anybody, please, if you see Dawn and her little boy, he’s just a baby.” says Culbertson fighting back tears. “Maybe they went into the river, but please if you see anything, if you’ve seen them, please let the police know.”