First Nations leaders call for more support as search for missing 5-year-old enters third week

The search for 5-year-old Frank Young enters its 22 day -- Photo courtesy of PAGC

As the search for missing 5-year-old Frank Young enters its third week, First Nations leaders are calling for more Government support for the family of the missing boy and the affected communities of Red Earth and Shoal Lake.

On April 19, Frank Young disappeared from his home on the Red Earth Cree Nation. After 22 days of searching, no sign of the boy has been found. Police say an amber alert will not be issued due to the lack of evidence of an abduction, despite First Nations leaders calling for one. 

Vice Chief Dutch Lerat of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said during an update on Tuesday that although the missing boy is not a cause for any political headline-grabbing or photo opportunity, there is an expectation that heads of Government would express their support for the family of Frank Young by showing their presence on Red Earth. 

“We have not had the support that normally would come to a community with such a tragedy, such a challenge, at hand,” he said.

Saskatchewan NDP leader Ryan Meili visited the family of the missing boy last Sunday, which Lerat claims was not for a political cause but to show compassion for the community. 

Red Earth Chief Fabian Head added that members of the Sask Party, Carrot River Valley MLA Fred Bradshaw and Northcote MLA Alana Ross, also showed their support for Red Earth and Shoal Lake by traveling to the community last weekend. 

During the update, leaders of the Red Earth and Shoal Lake Cree Nations, Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC), and the FSIN expressed their thanks for the commitment given by crews that are assisting in the search for Frank and they remain hopeful that the boy will be found safe.

Roughly 200 volunteers and 13 search and rescue teams from across the province have searched an area of 92 square kilometres near where the boy was last seen on the Red Earth Cree Nation. Search and rescue volunteers have dedicated around 2000 hours looking for the boy, and police say they’ve had around 490 GPS tracks so far.

“We will continue to assess day by day what the searches look like,” said Carrot River RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge, who joined the update on Tuesday morning. “The Saskatchewan RCMP continues to take this search seriously and we’re using every available resource to search for Frank and we continue to work closely with the community of Red Earth Cree Nation and partner agencies in this search.”

RCMP continue to focus their search efforts on the Carrot River, where five to eight police and civilian boats collaboratively patrol the water each day for any sign of Frank. A helicopter carrying spotters conducts aerial searches of the river every second day.

“They are generally able to cover an area of about 10 kilometres per day,” said RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge. 

A small pair of boots were recovered by the RCMP team on Saturday after searching nearly 30 kilometres down the river, but Frank’s family confirmed they did not belong to him. 

During the update’s closing remarks, Chief Marcel Head of Shoal Lake Cree Nation said he spoke with the parents of Frank Young who are understandably frustrated by the lack of evidence.

“We covet the prayers of all the people out there to pray for this family, especially the parents,” he said.

Chief Head added that a media statement from Frank’s parents should be expected in the coming weeks.