SASKATOON — The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations says it is elated to hear its executive office, Dawn Walker, and her son Vincent Jansen have been found safe and well.
Saskatoon Police Service announced Friday the missing mother and son had been found in Oregon City, Oregon, and that arrangements were being made for their return to Canada.
“We are elated to hear the news that Dawn and Vinnie are safe. Our prayers have been answered,” said Theresa Walker, Dawn Walker’s mother from Okanese First Nation.
The discovery of Dawn Walker's whereabouts was facilitated through a multi-agency investigation that established she and her son had illegally entered the United States. Last seen Friday, July 22, they were eventually tracked to Oregon City and American authorities became involved.
Theresa Walker said, “The past 15 days have been extremely difficult on our family and community. We are extremely thankful to all those who helped with the search efforts, including the RCMP, Saskatoon Police Service, Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nation, the Prince Albert Grand Council Search and Rescue, Lloydminster Rescue, Grandmother’s Bay Search and Rescue, volunteers from Red Earth Cree Nation and Lac La Ronge Indian Band, and all of our family and friends.”
She added, “Our work does not stop here. We recognize our challenges will continue on into the coming days and weeks, and we will continue to support her through this future challenge.”
Chief Richard Stonechild of Okanese First Nation said, “The leadership of Okanese First Nation has become aware of significant child welfare concern regarding our young band member Vincent Jansen. We are responsible for all of our citizens, regardless of their residency, and care and custody status.” He added, “Our Inherent and Treaty Rights [are] to intervene when one of our under-age band members safety is at risk. With the information we have received we believe this is the case, and we will assert our self-determination and jurisdiction to ensure all measures are taken.”
FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said, “At FSIN we know why First Nations women go missing and recognize that there are many complex issues that surround their disappearances. This is clearly the case with Dawn and her son Vinnie, and we will be closely following the legal process with more details on this case eventually being made public.”
She added, “It is a shame that our women feel helpless within the current justice system. Despite being a successful writer and having a law degree, what is clear is that Dawn was no exception to this. Every day, our women feel they are alone and do not know what to do in their desperate situations. We are the protectors of our children and it’s our duty to ensure their safety.”
FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said, “It is heartbreaking that Dawn may have felt she had no other choice but to take the drastic action that she did. Let us not forget that Dawn is a champion of First Nations women’s rights and causes. She spearheaded many MMIWG campaigns and gatherings.” Cameron said, “If there’s anything we have learned over the past two weeks [it] is the urgency of these MMIWG issues and our role in protecting our most vulnerable members in need.”
At a recent awareness walk for Walker and her son, a grief-stricken Cameron summed up the pain felt by family, friends and colleagues of Dawn Walker Cameron said that Dawn was a sister to everyone and a member of the family and he has known her for almost 12 years, working with her at FSIN.