The family of a five-year-old boy from the Red Earth Cree Nation, who was recently found dead, spoke out in Prince Albert on Tuesday.
Frank Young was found in a Saskatchewan First Nation river on Saturday, 81 days after he went missing. He was found near the area where he was last seen.
“Frank joined other family members who came before us.… [He’s] in the realm where my loved ones are,” Young’s grandmother Teresa Whitecap said.
“Frank led a sinless life, because he didn’t know what sin was. He was innocent.”
Her family said Tuesday they were devastated. They said Young would be remembered for his creativity and love of performing for children, paw patrol.
Young was last seen on April 19 playing outside the home where he lived with his aunt and uncle in the Red Earth Cree Nation, about 300 kilometers northeast of Saskatoon.
Despite an extensive search by land, air and boat of the community and surrounding area, the boy had not been seen since that day.
Chief Marcel Head of Shoal Lake Cree Nation, where Young’s parents live, thanked people in Saskatchewan and across Canada who helped support Young’s research.
“Today we bring our prayers and thoughts to the family, may God give them strength to get through this sad situation. Everyone wanted to have good expectations for the return of little Frank. It was not to be like this.”
Head also thanked everyone who came and helped throughout the search.
Investigation still open
Officers received a report around 7:06 p.m. CST Saturday that Frank’s body had been found in the river, according to RCMP.
An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday.
Sergeant Richard Tonge, commander of the Carrot River RCMP detachment, explained on Tuesday why it took so long to find Young.
“Despite our best efforts using advanced technology, nature is powerful. And even in sometimes our technology can’t beat nature,” Tonge said.
Although Young’s body has been found, Tonge said the investigation is not complete until police and the coroner can determine exactly what happened.
“So at this point I don’t have an official cause of death or manner of death provided by the coroner’s service. That will come,” Tonge said.
Police said they found no evidence that Young’s death was suspicious.
“Even after examination at the scene, there was no obvious trauma. Frank’s clothing was intact and everything we saw was consistent with Frank being in the river for a considerable period of time,” Tonge said. .
Head said many donations have been received to support Young’s research. Now that he is found, the remaining funds will be used to honor his memory.
“There will be some sort of memorial for Little Frank. Just something, you know, that we need to develop in the Red Earth community just to remember the little boy,” Head said.
“In our culture, you know, when something tragic like this happens, we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Head said an awareness campaign will take place in the communities of Red Earth and Shoal Lake to ensure parents learn the best ways to keep their children safe.
“Please keep your children safe, so something like this doesn’t happen again.” says the head.
On Wednesday, the family will bring Young’s body back to Red Earth for a wake. Then on Thursday, they will travel to Shoal Lake where her parents live. Young will be laid to rest Friday at Shoal Lake Cemetery.