B.C. woman launches First Nations search, rescue and patrol program

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

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.

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 coronavirus 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 on the Fraser River. Inyallie’s mother and two aunts went searching in Chilliwack, where Inyallie was known to visit, in tent camps tucked alongside highways and near shacks and RVs 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 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 contacted women leaders in First Nations communities, including Chief of Chawathil Rhoda Peters. Others are also supportive, 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 been 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… 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.

“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 training would take and who would participate – ideally all First Nations in B.C. for a start. With the outbreak of the pandemic, meetings which started in December are on pause. Peters is 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.”



emelie.peacock@hopestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

First NationsMMIWG

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Iconic Haida Gwaii species to be included in literary field guide for ‘Cascadia’

Experts, artists working on literary field guide with ‘kinship clusters’ for Pacific Northwest

Gwaii Trust Society creates ‘Staycation Grant’ for Haida Gwaii residents

Residents may apply for up to $250 to explore adventure opportunities in their own backyard

B.C. repairs COVID-19 emergency order for local government

Ombudsperson shut out as his recommendations implemented

Kristi Lane Sinclair art doc ‘taking a different stance’ on the Gaag.iid

Toronto-based Haida artist hopes to start editing passion project on the fabled ‘wild man’ next month

Furniture in the gym, arrows in hallways: SD50 staff report on return to in-class instruction

All 6 schools allowed return to partial in-class learning June 11; Staff submitted reports June 18

A list of charge rates or Crown referrals from police oversight bodies across Canada

Here are the rates of charges or referrals to the Crown from their most recent annual reports or online data

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Most Read