Sask. First Nation communities gather one year after 5-year-old’s body was found

Frank Young was five years old when he went missing from Red Earth Cree Nation in April 2022. He was found 81 days later, on Jul. 9. -- Prince Albert Grand Council/Facebook

Marcel Head says it’s impossible to forget the feelings of grief associated with the death of a five-year-old boy in his community.

It’s been just over a year since Frank Young’s body was found in the river near the Red Earth and Shoal Lake Cree Nations in east-central Saskatchewan.

The boy went missing on Apr. 19, 2022, and was found on Jul. 9, 81 days later.

Family, friends and community members gathered on Thursday for two memorial events, which Head said is important for healing.

“We’ve had tragic losses similar to little Frank and the families that previously had gone through that time of a loss, they still remember,” said Head, chief of Shoal Lake Cree Nation.

“Sometimes what they’ll do is gather the family together and just have a feast in memory of that individual… That’s mainly what our people are known for and it is part of healing.”

The community held a blessing ceremony of a memorial cross placed at the site where Young was found on the riverbank.

Later in the afternoon, they blessed Young’s headstone at the Shoal Lake Cemetery, followed by a BBQ to celebrate his life.

Family, friends and community members gather around Frank Young’s headstone for a blessing ceremony. — Prince Albert Grand Council/Facebook

A news release described the events as remembering “a life well-lived and a spirit that continues to inspire.”

Head said Young’s high energy and love for Paw Patrol still lingers in those who knew him. The Red Earth and Shoal Lake communities are closely tied, he explained, and many knew Young since he was a baby.

“He was just a funny little guy and there was never a dull moment with little Frank,” said Head.

“We continue to support each other just like a family.”

Immediate searches began by local volunteers and firefighters after Young was reported missing, along with agencies such as the RCMP and Prince Albert Grand Council.

His body was located under deadfall in the area he was originally reported missing. RCMP said there was no indication of suspicious circumstances. At the time, Head said rising river levels from spring runoff and ice jams hindered the search for Young.

Frank Young is remembered for his energetic personality and his love for Paw Patrol. — Prince Albert Grand Council/Submitted