RED EARTH CREE NATION — The search for a five-year-old Saskatchewan boy, missing in the province’s north for more than a week, is still being treated as a rescue mission.
Chief Fabian Head of the Red Earth Cree Nation, 300 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, says the search will not stop until Frank Young is found.
“We won’t give up hope,” Head said at a news conference Tuesday.
In recent days, the search has become more complex as annual spring runoff has made the Carrot River rise several metres, stalling search efforts by boat, he said.
Sgt. Richard Tonge of the Carrot River RCMP detachment said he doesn’t know if Frank is alive, but search teams have not given up hope.
“Previous searches show us humans can be incredibly resilient, and that is why our efforts continue, and we’re doing everything we possibly can to find Frank,” Tonge said.
“We will do everything we can to find him alive.”
Family last saw Frank about noon on April 19 outside his aunt and uncle’s home where he was living. Family members began looking for him about 30 minutes later.
“They are in distress,” said Head. “They haven’t had rest and sleep since April 19. They’re emotionally, physically, mentally fatigued.”
Frank is said to have been spotted about 2:30 p.m. the same day by another community member who has come forward, Mounties said.
“In our discussions with the family, Frank does not have a history of wandering off,” said Tonge.
“Frank does go to friends’ houses in the community, near his own house.”
RCMP do not believe the boy has been abducted and there haven’t been any sightings of him at community checkpoints set up around the First Nation.
More than 200 volunteers have searched just over 90 square kilometres, including wooded areas, marshes and waterways. Air searches also continue.
Head said about 200 houses in the Red Earth community have been searched by crews, who also checked inside canoes, sheds and crawl spaces in and around homes.
Indigenous Services Canada is providing additional mental-health support for the family and community, he said.
Frank’s parents, who live in neighbouring Shoal Lake Cree Nation, are also distressed over their missing son.
Shoal Lake Chief Marcel Head said the parents continue to receive counselling and help from elders.
“There’s more questions than there are answers. Along with that, their frustrations and anxiety, it builds up,” he said.