Day 11 of search: First Nation calls for Amber Alert to help find Saskatchewan boy 

Frank Young has been missing since April 19, 2022

RED EARTH CREE NATION-Indigenous leaderswere urging police Friday to issue an Amber Alert for a five-year-old Saskatchewan boy missing for 11 days.

Red Earth Cree Nation, the Prince Albert Grand Council and the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 Saskatchewan First Nations, said they had been in touch with provincial and federal officials about activating the emergency alert.

“The response we are getting is it has to fit a criteria in order to activate an Amber Alert,” Chief Fabian Head of Red Earth Cree Nation told a news conference.

RCMP Sgt. Richard Tonge said the topic was discussed at various levels.

An Amber Alert, with up-to-date details and a description of a child, must be authorized by police and is typically sent out through television broadcasts, cellphone notifications and roadway signs. It’s meant to make the public aware that a child is missing so as to call in any sightings or tips.

Tonge said Amber Alerts are issued only when there’s evidence a child has been abducted and there’s concern for the child’s safety.

“We don’t have evidence of those things happening in this case,” Tonge said.

However, he said, officers have no physical evidence of what happened to Frank, so they cannot rule out abduction or criminal involvement.

Frank Young was last seen by his family about noon on April 19 on the Red Earth reserve, about 220 kilometres northeast of Prince Albert.

A witness reported a sighting at a playground several hours later in the north end of the community.

More than 200 volunteers have been searching a roughly 90-square-kilometre area, primarily south of Frank’s home, as well as the area near the playground and along the nearby Carrot River.

Some have been using all-terrain vehicles to search marshes, too wet to search by foot, near the playground.

With weather warming up, searchers have been able to cover new ground.

An abandoned blue jacket, similar in colour to one Frank was wearing, was found in the north end. But after seeing the jacket, the family said it did not belong to the boy, police said.

“Obviously, as the days go by, the concern for Frank grows. We are in Day 11 of this intensive search and in each passing day, in each passing hour, our concern continues to intensify,” Tonge said.

“That being said, our resolve hasn’t changed. Our commitment hasn’t changed and our goal is to find Frank Young and bring him back to his family.”

Tonge said RCMP have received tips from as far away as Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., about sightings of the boy, but they have been discounted.

He also ruled out a rumour circulating on the video-sharing app TikTok that Frank’s footprints were found in the community.

The night Frank disappeared a blizzard swept through with about six centimetres of snow.

“Any footprints found after that time are hard to say they belong to Frank,” Tonge said.

“We’re still in a community with many young children, so footprints around houses and different areas _ they don’t automatically belong to Frank Young.”

Head said the community is still treating the search as a rescue mission.

“We’re resilient and we come together in times like this to support one another,” the chief said.

“It’s the words of our elders that encourage us, and give us that comfort that we are thankful for.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 29, 2022.

– By Mickey Djuric in Regina


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