An Indigenous writer and leader with a group representing First Nations in Saskatchewan has been found safe in Oregon, Saskatoon police announced Friday, two weeks after she and her seven-year-old son were reported missing.
Dawn Dumont Walker, an author and speaker from the Okanese Cree Nation in southern Saskatchewan, was reported missing on July 24. She had last been seen two days earlier at a business in Saskatoon. She is an executive with the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
Air, land and water crews had been scouring the region for the couple, with investigators focusing their search on the South Saskatchewan River after her red F-150 pickup truck and some personal belongings were discovered on the riverbank of Chief Whitecap Park, about 20 minute drive south of Saskatoon. Her purse had also been discovered in the area by someone who handed it over to the police.
Saskatoon police announced Friday that Ms. Walker and her son, Vincent Jansen, had been located “safe and well” in Oregon City after investigators determined they had crossed into the United States.
“Agency representatives are currently working on the details to arrange their return to Canada,” the service wrote in a press release. “The investigation was then able to trace them to the Oregon City location where cross-border law enforcement cooperation was utilized.”
Saskatoon police noted that U.S. authorities are “considering the implications and any potential action” regarding their crossing into the U.S. “Pending any action by U.S. authorities, Dawn Walker will be returned to Saskatoon to meet with investigators.”
U.S. representatives are also working with Saskatoon police to return Vincent to a legal guardian, they said.
Mrs. Walker’s mother, Theresa Walker of the Okanese First Nation, said in a statement released by FSIN that the family and community were “elated” by the news that Ms. Walker and her son were safe.
“Our prayers have been answered,” she said in the statement. “The past 15 days have been extremely difficult for our family and community. … We recognize that our challenges will continue in the coming days and weeks, and we will continue to support her through this future challenge.”
FSIN Deputy Chief Heather Bear said in the same statement that the organization will follow the legal process closely.
“At FSIN, we know why First Nations women go missing and recognize that there are many complex issues surrounding their disappearance,” she said.
An award-winning author, Ms. Walker (who writes under the name Dawn Dumont) was this week nominated for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor. The awards association said they learned of her disappearance on the same day the nominees were announced.
Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is loosely based on the story of a European tour in the 1970s by a group of native dancers. Mrs. Walker’s previous books include Glass beads, Nobody cries at bingo and Rose’s Run.
The author, who has been an advocate for missing and murdered Indigenous women, ran as the Liberal candidate for Saskatoon-University in last year’s federal election.
ONE website with printable posters of Ms. Walker and her son were launched by Vincent’s father, Andrew Jansen, after the disappearance. ONE GoFundMe page had also been set up by Mr Jansen to raise funds for the search effort.
“Vincent has been found!” said the website on Friday afternoon, following the announcement from the police.
Saskatoon police said they would hold a press conference on Monday.
With files from The Canadian Press
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