The family of missing boy Frank Young have addressed the public for the first time since the 5-year-old disappeared from his home on the Red Earth Cree Nation four weeks ago.
Young’s grandmother Teresa Whitecap acted as the family’s spokesperson during a media conference organized by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in Prince Albert Monday morning. Through tears, she spoke about Frank’s creativity and his fun-loving personality.
Several members of Frank’s family joined Whitecap as she made an emotional statement about how difficult the last 28 days have been.
“The family is overwhelmed with worry and grief,” she said. “However, they are extremely grateful for all the support.”
More than 600 volunteers and 13 search and rescue teams from all over the province have come to the community of Red Earth to assist with the ongoing search efforts.
A candlelight vigil was organized by the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) Sunday night on behalf of the Young family, which was held at the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls memorial on the bank of the North Saskatchewan River in Prince Albert.
News of Frank’s disappearance has spread worldwide. Whitecap mentioned how amazed and grateful she was for the support the family received from as far away as Australia.
“That really hit my heart,” she said. “I didn’t realize there were other countries thinking about us, especially Frank.”
First Nation’s leaders from Red Earth, Shoal Lake, the FSIN, and the PAGC are continuing the call for more support and resources from Government officials to assist in the search for Frank Young.
Chief Marcel Head of the Shoal Lake Cree Nation said the community has reached out to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe for financial support to aid the searchers with fuel and food, as well as mental health support for the family and the affected communities.
Red Earth Chief Fabian Head added that they have requested help from the Canadian Military, but have not yet received a response.
“It is the expectation that every resource at our fingertips should be used when a little one goes missing,” FSIN Vice-Chief Heather Bear said. “Every effort needs to happen…. Don’t spare any expense.”
PAGC Search and Rescue Team President Michelle Vandevord is reaching out to other Indigenous communities in Saskatchewan, and across the provincial borders to Alberta, Manitoba, and British Columbia to assist with the extensive ground search currently taking place.
“If you are able to, I’m asking my First Nations sisters, brothers, cousins, to please help the family and come and search,” said Vandevord. “We will not give up until Frank is brought home.”