Family kept searching for Shawnee Inyallie until the very end. Here, Inyallie’s brother Patrick Pete instructs volunteers before a search of Highway 1 towards Boston Bar Nov. 18, 2018. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

‘In Shawnee’s name’: First Nations search, rescue and patrol program in planning stages

Linda Peters envisions trained searchers ready to go at moment’s notice in each B.C. First Nation

Linda Kay Peters wants the death of her niece to never be forgotten.

Shawnee Inyallie disappeared in the summer of 2018 from Hope, which sparked months of searches by family that Peters remembers as a very traumatic time for the whole family. Inyallie’s body was found four months later at the Fraser River in Delta – a BC Coroners Service investigation into her death is still open.

Now, Peters is organizing an effort to get First Nations trained in searching for people who go missing from their communities. Her plans have been temporarily put on pause due to the restrictions on gathering, but she has been connecting with local First Nations and the RCMP to establish a First Nations search, rescue and patrol program.

When Inyallie went missing, the family did three searches in small groups along highways, as well as two river searches along the Fraser River. Inyallie’s mother and two aunties went searching in Chilliwack, where Inyallie was known to visit, in tent camps tucked alongside highways and near shacks and RV’s parked along local waterways.

“It was really traumatizing on the family, it was our family doing all the searching,” she said. “(The Chilliwack tent camp search) was us women going in there, we didn’t even have any men coming in there to help protect us. We did it ourselves.”

WATCH: Brother of missing Hope woman makes emotional appeal for more media attention

When people go missing, families cannot just ask professionally trained searchers from search and rescue organizations to come along. These organizations must be tasked out by the relevant authorities – in the case of missing people in Hope it would be the RCMP.

Peters has met with police, as well as search and rescue organizations in Chilliwack, Agassiz and Hope. She has had contact with women leaders in First Nations communities, including Chief of Chawathil Rhoda Peters. Others are also supportive, Peters said, including Grand Chief Doug Kelly, Seabird Island councillor Alexis Grace, and Superintendent Bryon Massie, Officer in Charge of the RCMP’s Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment.

“I want this program to come from a grassroots level, I want it to come from the First Nations people, women, especially,” Peters said.

She has also gotten in touch with the Winnipeg-based Bear Clan Patrol, a group of volunteers who provide a presence, connection with and security for Indigenous people who may be vulnerable in the urban areas they live.

“They walk the streets and they try to protect the women and the vulnerable people on the streets,” Peters said. “I want to combine that training with the First Nations search and rescue, and train community members so that when one of our members go missing, we can call on somebody right now. Not a week down the road, or two or three days on, we need to go now.”

Peters wants each First Nations community in Canada to be involved – her vision is to have a coordinator in each community who can train five to 10 volunteers within their community.

“When somebody goes missing, they can call on them. And then they can call on the other communities because they will have a group of people in there. So you can have 50, 60, 100 people come,” Peters said.

The details are still to be worked out about how long a training would look like and who would take part, ideally all First Nations in B.C. for a start Peters said. With the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, meetings which started in December are on pause for the time being. But Peters said she’s ready to get the planning going again this summer.

“I’m doing this in Shawnee’s name because I don’t want her death to be in vain. Something good has got to come out of it,” she said.



emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationshopeMMIWG

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Linda Kay Peters at her home in Hope, wearing red on the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

First Nations fishermen from local communities assisted the family in searching for Shawnee Inyallie Sept. 16, 2018. Submitted photo

Shawnee Morita Inyallie’s body was found Nov. 4 after nearly four months missing from Hope, B.C. Submitted photo

Linda Kay Peters at her home in Hope, wearing red on the National Day of Awareness for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. Emelie Peacock/Hope Standard

Just Posted

A second wave of COVID-19 is probable, if history tells us anything

B.C.’s top doctor says that what health officials have learned this round will guide response in future

Council talks trash: New garbage bylaw in the works

Draft bylaw to be voted on at Monday, May 25 council meeting

UPDATE: Police oversight agency investigating after shots fired Saturday night in Chilliwack neighbourhood

RCMP reported a ‘distraught male’ fired at police officers on Christina Drive – IIO is on scene Sunday

Prospera Credit Union, Westminster Savings lay off over 100 staff following historic merge

2020 merger was largest credit-union merger in Canadian history

‘Service beyond the classroom’: Gerry Palmer wins UFV award

Palmer has been involved with UFV for more than 30 years, starting as an instructor

LIVE: Procession to honour Snowbirds Capt. Jennifer Casey comes to Halifax

Snowbirds service member died in a crash in Kamloops one week ago

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

‘Not a joke’: Promoter wants to rocket-launch man the length of White Rock pier

Brooke Colby says he’s building an eight-foot rocket in his backyard

RCMP confirm man dead in Chilliwack shooting incident

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the RCMP’s role in the death

B.C. employers worry about safety, cash flow, second wave in COVID-19 restart

A survey found 75 per cent of businesses worry about attracting customers

Ex-BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver says province came close to early election

Disagreement centred on the LNG Canada project in northern B.C.

Canada’s NHL teams offer options to season-ticket holders

Canadian teams are offering refunds, but also are pushing a number of incentives to let them keep the money

Boy, 2, left with ‘soft tissue injuries’ after being hit by car in Squamish intersection

Boy was release from hospital, police continue to investigate

B.C. premier says lessons to learn from past racism during response to pandemic

B.C. formally apologized in the legislature chamber in 2008 for its role in the Komagata Maru tragedy

Most Read