Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A ground and aerial search for a brother and sister on the Muskoday First Nation is in need of some volunteers.
The search for Alex McGillivary, age 20 and Kathryn Cusveller, age 24, who have not been seen since August 20, started in the village but has now expanded to the river and wilder areas further from the community.
“The two individuals that we’ve been looking for since yesterday have not been heard from by family members for a few days,” said Chief Ava Bear. “The last time Alex made a post on Facebook was August 20.”
The pair left the house they were staying at when no one else was home so searchers can’t say for sure exactly when they left.
“Family became very concerned when they posted ‘contact us please’ and weren’t getting a response. We thought we would offer some assistance to them,” Bear explained.
Bear called upon the skills and knowledge available via the Prince Albert Grand Council’s Search Rescue and Recovery team, headed by Michelle Vandevord.
“Yesterday we conducted a search of the community villages where the main residences are. We cleared the village area and now we’re concentrating on the other side of the river near the store and the Pow Wow grounds. We’ve been flying drones all morning looking for signs of Alex and Kathryn. This afternoon we will be on both foot and quads,” Vandevord said on August 30.
People wanting to help need to register at the fire hall before heading out.
“We’ve had a number of volunteers, but today the numbers are somewhat lower” Bear said. “We certainly need some more people. I understand the weather is going to turn colder, probably tomorrow evening and it would be good to find these two before that time.”
Band staff that could leave their jobs and help out are being allowed to do so without jeopardizing their pay.
“We’re really thankful for all the help and assistance that we’ve gotten so far,” Bear said. “There’s been donations of food that’s come into the fire hall, water and coffee and that sort of thing. It’s been very, very helpful for the searchers.”
There is some evidence that McGillivary and Cusveller have some survival gear with them and may be trying to live off the land, but the community is still worried for several other reasons.
The rain and other concerns like a low berry yield this year are added to the fact that McGillivary does not have his medication with him.
“There’s all sorts of things that could happen and I think time is of the essence,” Bear said.
“Alex has always talked about living off the land and how he could live in the bush. He grew up in Muskoday and he knows the land so it’s where he would be most familiar to be able to do something like that,” Vandevord explained.
They did not take their cell phones with them.
They would like more people out looking with ATVs and horses, as they can go where all-terrain vehicles cannot.
A poster has been made up that Vandevord hopes businesses in Prince Albert will hang up in case they decide to go to the city for supplies but they are still focused on the search of the actual community. Copies of the poster are available at the Fire Hall and can be brought into Prince Albert for businesses that want to help.
“A lot of it is heavily treed areas, we have a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of land to cover and that’s why we were making a request for more searchers and more people to help.,” said Zandevord.