The search for a five-year-old boy who disappeared from a First Nation in Saskatchewan is stretching into its second week, but the Mounties say they have not given up hope that he will be found alive.
Frank Young was reported missing on April 19 from the Red Earth Cree Nation, located about 300 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon. Police have said they don’t believe he was abducted.
200 volunteers and 13 search groups have since covered roughly 92 square kilometres in an effort to find the boy. Searchers have checked crawl spaces in houses, outdoor sheds, wooded areas, muskeg and waterways, but there has been no sign of Frank.
“We haven’t given up hope,” said Sergeant Richard Tonge of the Carrot River RCMP detachment on Tuesday. “History, previous searches have shown us that humans can be incredibly resilient and that is why our efforts continue and we’re doing everything we possible can to find Frank.”
Sgt. Tonge said there remains no evidence the child was abducted. He said they the RCMP have received numerous tips about Frank’s whereabouts in locations as far as Saskatoon and in Alberta, but none have proven accurate.
“We have no witness evidence, no video evidence to support Frank was abducted from the community,” he said. “In our discussions with the family, Frank does not have a history of wandering off.”
The RCMP did not issue an Amber Alert because the case did not fit the criteria.
Fabian Head, Chief of the Red Earth Cree Nation, said search efforts on water have become more difficult with ice breaks causing a rise in nearby rivers. RCMP has also warned that snow, wind and low temperatures could impact the rescue mission.
The boy was last seen on April 19 around noon on reserve, where he lives with his aunt and uncle. RCMP said family members began looking for him about 30 minutes later.
“They haven’t had rest and sleep since,” Mr. Head said. “They’re emotionally, physically, mentally fatigued.”
Police said the boy was wearing Paw Patrol rubber boots, blue with green dinosaur pyjamas and a navy blue windbreaker-style jacket. He is described as four-feet tall, approximately 66 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
“We will not stop until we find Frank,” Mr. Head said.
The young boy’s parents live in neighbouring Shoal Lake Cree Nation. Chief Marcel Head said they are distressed and frustrated over their son’s disappearance.
“There’s more questions than there are answers,” the Shoal Lake Chief said, adding that counselling and other supports are being provided to the parents and other relatives.
Various search-and-rescue teams, police dog services and other First Nations and local community members are aiding the effort. The Shoal Lake Chief said more help is still needed as people grow tired.
“Hopefully, with all the prayers and thoughts (for the) wellbeing of Frank, he’ll be found safe and sound. That’s the mindset that we have at the moment. We just don’t simply want to give up hope.”
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