Sun. Aug 14th, 2022

Police handout photo of Dawn Walker and her seven-year-old son.HO/The Canadian Press

An Indigenous author and executive 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’d been last 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 pair, with investigators focusing their search on the South Saskatchewan River, after her red F-150 pickup truck and some personal belongings were discovered by the riverbank in Chief Whitecap Park, about a 20-minute drive south of Saskatoon. Her purse had also been discovered in the area by an individual who turned it in 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 established that they had crossed into the United States.

“Agency representatives are currently working out the details of arranging for their return to Canada,” the service wrote in a press release. “The investigation was then able to track them to the Oregon City location where cross-border law enforcement co-operation was utilized.”

Saskatoon police noted that US authorities are “considering the implications and any potential action” related to their crossing into the US “Pending any action by US authorities, Dawn Walker will be returned to Saskatoon to meet with investigators.”

US representatives are also working with Saskatoon police to return Vincent to a legal guardian, they said.

Mrs. Walker’s mother, Theresa Walker from Okanese First Nation, said in a statement released by the FSIN that the family and community were “elated” by 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 on our family and community. … We recognize our challenges will continue on into the coming days and weeks, and we will continue to support her through this future challenge.”

FSIN vice-chief Heather Bear said in the same statement that the organization will be closely following the legal process.

“At FSIN, we know why First Nations women go missing and recognize that there are many complex issues that surround their disappearances,” she said.

An award-winning author, Ms. Walker (who writes under the name Dawn Dumont) was shortlisted this week for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour. The award association said it was the same day the nominees were announced that they learned of her disappearance.

The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour is loosely based on the story of a 1970s European tour by a group of Indigenous dancers. Mrs. Walker’s previous books include Glass Beads, Nobody Cries at Bingo spirit 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.

A website with printable posters of Ms. Walker and her son were 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 search efforts.

“Vincent is found!” the website said Friday afternoon, after the announcement by police.

Saskatoon police said they would hold a news conference on Monday.

With files from The Canadian Press

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