Missing Indigenous author Dawn Walker and her son found safe in US
An Indigenous author and leader of a group representing Saskatchewan First Nations has been found safe in Oregon, Saskatoon police said 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 a member of the executive of the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN).
Air, ground and sea teams had scoured the area for the couple, with investigators focusing their search on the South Saskatchewan River, after his red F-150 pickup truck and some personal belongings were discovered by the river in the Chief Whitecap Park, about a 20 minute drive south of Saskatoon. Her purse had also been discovered in the area by an individual who had handed it over to the police.
Saskatoon police announced on Friday that Ms Walker and her son, Vincent Jansen, were found “unharmed” in Oregon City after investigators determined they had entered the United States.
“Agency officials are currently working out the details of arranging their return to Canada,” the service wrote in a press release. “The investigation was then able to track them to the location in Oregon City where cross-border law enforcement cooperation was used.”
Saskatoon police noted that US authorities are “investigating the implications and any potential action” related to their passage to the United States. “Pending any action from US authorities, Dawn Walker will be returned to Saskatoon to meet with investigators.”
US officials are also working with Saskatoon police to return Vincent to a legal guardian, they said.
Ms Walker’s mother, Theresa Walker of the Okanese First Nation, said in a statement released by the FSIN that the family and community were “thrilled” to hear that Ms Walker and her son were safe.
“Our prayers have been answered,” she said in the statement. “The last 15 days have been extremely difficult for our family and our community. … We recognize that our challenges will continue in the days and weeks ahead, and we will continue to support her through this future challenge.
FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said in the same statement that the organization would closely monitor the legal process.
“At the FSIN, we know why First Nations women go missing and recognize that there are many complex issues that surround their disappearance,” she said.
Award-winning author Ms Walker (who writes as Dawn Dumont) was shortlisted for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humor this week. The award association said it was the same day the nominees were announced that they learned of his disappearance.
The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is loosely based on the story of a 1970s European tour by a group of native dancers. Ms. Walker’s previous books include glass marbles, No one cries at bingo and Rose’s Race.
The author, who has championed the cause of missing and murdered Indigenous women, ran as a Liberal candidate for Saskatoon-University in last year’s federal election.
A website with printable posters of Ms Walker and her son was launched by Vincent’s father, Andrew Jansen, after the disappearance. A GoFundMe page had also been set up by Mr. Jansen to raise funds for the research efforts.
“Vincent is found!” the website said on Friday afternoon, after the announcement by police.
Saskatoon police said they would hold a press conference on Monday.
With files from The Canadian Press
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