It is now day 28 of the search for a missing five-year-old boy from the Red Earth Cree Nation.
Frank Young’s grandmother, Teresa Whitecap, was in tears on Monday as she addressed the public at a press conference hosted by the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
In a moving statement, made while surrounded by his family, Whitecap shared how difficult the past few weeks have been and thanked people for their continued support.
“The family is overwhelmed with worry and grief,” Whitecap said.
“My family is very strong. And the reason we are strong is because we are one.”
Frank was last seen outside his home in Red Earth, about 300 kilometers northeast of Saskatoon, on the afternoon of April 19. He was also seen on a playground in the northern part of the community.
Messages of support from the country and the world
Whitecap said on Monday it was very difficult for the family to speak publicly, but it is important to speak about the past four weeks and the impact on the family.
“Frank was creative, he loved to have fun,” Whitecap said. “Frank loved playing outside with the neighborhood kids.”
The grandmother loves and misses Frank’s “little chipmunk voice”, she told reporters.
The child was in a Head Start program and was proud to make things for his caregiver and aunt while participating in the program, Whitecap said.
When Frank disappeared, he was living with his aunt and uncle. The boy’s parents live in the Shoal Lake Cree Nation.
The day he disappeared, everyone immediately sprang into action and the whole neighborhood joined in the search, Whitecap said.
Eventually, the RCMP was called in for support, she said.
“I just want to say thank you, thank you to all the volunteers who came to Red Earth [Cree Nation] to help search for Frank, the technicians who brought their equipment to help with the search by land, air and sea. »
It has been overwhelming to see all the support from people, with thoughtful posts on social media coming from as far away as Australia, Whitecap said.
Right now, the hope of seeing Frank again keeps the family alive, she added.
“I pray for all the seekers, all the people who are in our circle,” Whitecap said.
“I pray and pray, asking our Heavenly Father to guide the seekers, to bring Frank home to us.”
More help needed
Local Red Earth Cree Nation and Shoal Lake Cree Nation teams continued the search for the missing boy with outside search and rescue teams, Red Earth Cree Nation Chief Fabian Head said.
On Monday, the search included more than 611 volunteers and 13 search and rescue teams, he added.
Additionally, they are awaiting a response from the Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Army Reserve, for additional support, he said.
“Although it is day 28, we still consider this mission a rescue mission,” Fabian Head said.
A similar message came Monday from Shoal Lake Cree Nation Chief Marcel Head.
“Today we still tell people to be brave and be careful,” said Marcel Head.
“We won’t give up. We won’t give up until we find little Frank.”
While many First Nations, tribal councils, neighboring communities, volunteers and organizations have helped with the search, the FSIN is now asking the provincial and federal governments to send more help.
“We want to appeal, ask and wait for Prime Minister Trudeau and Prime Minister Scott Moe to support us, send your resources, send the army, the Rangers,” FSIN chief Bobby Cameron said.
“There’s been a lot of fatigue that has come over the last month on the seekers.”