RED EARTH CREE NATION, SASK. — A five-year-old boy missing from a First Nation in northern Saskatchewan since April has been found dead in a river in the community, police announced on Sunday.
RCMP issued a news release saying officers in their Carrot River detachment got a report on Saturday evening that Frank Young had been found deceased in the river on Red Earth Cree Nation, near the location where he was originally reported missing on April 19.
"This is not how anyone wanted the search for Frank to end. Our deepest condolences are with Frank's family, loved ones, and community who have been greatly impacted by this tragedy," detachment commander Sgt. Richard Tonge said in the news release.
Police said there is no indication of suspicious circumstances at this point but the investigation, which is being conducted in partnership with the Saskatchewan Coroners Service, is still in its early stages. An autopsy is planned, it added.
Young was last seen at a playground near his home wearing Paw Patrol rubber boots, green pyjamas with dinosaurs on them and a navy blue windbreaker-style jacket.
RCMP suspended their aerial and boat search late last month, at which point Red Earth Cree Nation Chief Fabian Head said more than 92 square kilometres had been searched by more than 600 people, with nearly 500 areas tracked by a global positioning system.
"We would like to thank everyone within the community and beyond, who assisted in the search for Frank."
In announcing that the child's body had been found, Head said more information would be released at a news conference to be held later.
"For now, we ask for your prayers and continued support during our time of grief," Head said in the post.
Assembly of First Nations National Chief RoseAnne Archibald said in a statement Sunday that she reached out to community leaders when she heard the news and they immediately put her in touch with the boy's grandmother, Teresa Whitecap.
Archibald said Whitecap had been at last week's AFN annual general meeting in Vancouver, where she made an emotional appeal to the chiefs-in-assembly for support and assistance to find her grandson.
"On behalf of all Chiefs across Turtle Island, I relayed our deep and abiding love and care for her and little Frank's family and communities," Archibald said.
Archibald concluded her statement with a call for both the federal and provincial government to provide ongoing mental health support.
In May, RCMP asked the Canadian Armed Forces to deploy Canadian Rangers, a sub-component of the Canadian Army Reserve who live and work in remote, isolated and coastal regions, to assist in the search.
But Tonge said at the time the request was denied because Rangers are generally deployed within 100 kilometres of their own community, and there was no ranger element within that distance of Red Earth Cree Nation.
A spokeswoman for the Canadian Armed Forces had said it decided, following consultations with the RCMP, that its resources were not best placed to assist in the search.
Head said at the time the RCMP suspended their aerial and boat search that his community members were continuing to treat the search for Frank as a rescue mission, at the request of his family.
"Each day amounts to more emotion, and becomes harder and harder as each day passes that we don't find Frank," Head said in late June.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2022.
— By Rob Drinkwater in Edmonton
The Canadian Press