‘We have to stand together:’ family honoured for helping in search of missing man

Francis Depeel (left) and Marie Romanchuk (right) wrap themselves in a blanket presented to them for supporting those searching for Travis MacDonald on Oct. 23, 2018. (Jayda Noyes/Daily Herald)

Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald

Tears broke through the eyes of two family members who were presented a star blanket from the Prince Albert Grand Council (PAGC) for providing support in the search for Travis MacDonald, who was found deceased.

The 24-year-old Stony Rapids man was driving from Saskatoon to Prince Albert on Oct. 8 when he went missing.

The PAGC and MacDonald’s family and friends searched before finding him on Oct. 14.

Searchers created a Facebook page called ‘Help Find Travis MacDonald’ to communicate. (Help Find Travis MacDonald/Facebook)

After Steve Depeel allowed them to search his farmland, him and his family provided them coffee and snacks and opened up their home when searchers found MacDonald’s body.

Steve was unable to attend the ceremony on Tuesday, but his sister, Marie Romanchuk, and mother, Francis Depeel, were there on behalf of their family.

They wrapped themselves in the multi-coloured blanket while drumming filled the air to thank them.

Romanchuk read a note from Steve, getting more emotional as she spoke her brother’s words directed to MacDonald’s family.

“You are permanently etched in my mind and heart. You will be in my prayers for the rest of my life,” she read.

Francis explained her emotions as overwhelming.

“When we see people going through such tragedy, our hearts go out to them and whatever we can do to help them, that’s the whole purpose of our life. The great creator watches over us and cares for us and moves us and we have to show them the same love to all mankind,” she said.

The ceremony occurred over lunch at the Prince Albert Grand Council’s fall assembly.

The Senator Allen Bird Memorial Centre’s gym was filled for the presentation.

“We felt that what we did was just what a neighbour should do for a fellow human being…so we really didn’t feel that we did anything that deserved or warranted this kind of honour, but it was an honour,” she said, recognizing the sacredness of the star blanket.

Many who watched shook hands with her and opened their arms for a hug as she was leaving.

“We’re just all of God’s children. We have to stand together. There’s nothing that should be dividing us, and if someone is suffering—if they’re hungry, you give them food; if they’re not warm, you give them a blanket. That’s just how it should be and to do anything less would be basically amoral,” said Romanchuk.

No further details have been released on the RCMP’s investigation into MacDonald’s death.

Before he was found, they declared his disappearance suspicious when his truck was located on a grid road.