As search efforts to locate a missing 5-year-old boy enter day 64, Red Earth Cree Nation Chief Fabian Head says his family remains optimistic of his return.
Frank Young disappeared from outside his home on the Red Earth Cree Nation on April 19.
Chief Head said that they still consider the search as a rescue mission at the request of Young’s family, but each day becomes harder and more emotional.
For the past two weeks, spiritual knowledge keepers from the community have been guiding the search and rescue team to an upstream body of water known locally as “The Y”.
“The Y” is located approximately five to eight kilometres downstream from Young’s home.
A total of 611 volunteers have helped cover nearly 92 square kilometres in their search for the missing boy since his disappearance over two months ago.
Chief Head thanked all the search and rescue teams who provided support for the community and the nearby Shoal Lake Cree Nation, including the crew of 16 searchers from the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency who recently left the First Nation after arriving to help on May 24.
Head is continuing the call for provincial and federal government aid, as inflation has made supporting the search team with limited resources a challenge.
“Our local ATV, boat and motor equipment are starting to break down and need servicing,” says Head.
The people of Red Earth have experienced a lot of grief since Young went missing. Six deaths and two stillborn losses since April 17 have shaken the community. The Prince Albert Grand Council and the local Children and Family Services organization are currently providing mental health support for the affected families.
Sgt. Richard Tonge from the Carrot River RCMP Detachment says the RCMP have used all the resources they had available to help search for 5-year-old Frank Young.
No further RCMP aerial or boat searches have been scheduled. They will now only be conducted “as new information comes in [that] must be investigated”.
The last aerial search was conducted by helicopter on June 11, RCMP boat searches continued until June 17.
Carrot River RCMP put in a request to the Canadian Armed Forces for Canadian Rangers to come to the community and assist in the search, but were denied due to not fitting the criteria needed for their deployment.
“The rationale is Rangers are generally deployed within 100 kilometres of their own community, that’s where they have their local knowledge and expertise,” explained Tonge. “We do not have a Ranger element within 400 kilometres of Red Earth Cree Nation.”
Sgt. Tonge added that since the Carrot River is receding, the Saskatchewan RCMP’s Tactical Support Group will be traveling to the community of Red Earth to conduct a “thorough, targeted foot search” of the river bank this weekend. Their goal will be to find any items that may be associated with the missing boy.
“Frank is a missing person and we remain committed to finding him and bringing him home,” said Tonge. “We will continue to investigate as new information and tips are received and evidence is located.”
Anyone with information about Young’s whereabouts or anyone that finds items of interest related to him is asked to contact the Carrot River RCMP immediately.