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Missing Saskatchewan woman and son found safe in U.S.

Saskatoon police say a woman and her seven-year-old son who were reported missing last month have been found safe in Oregon. Investigators said arrangements were being made with the U.S.

Saskatoon police say a woman and her seven-year-old son who were reported missing last month have been found safe in Oregon.

Investigators said arrangements were being made with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to have Dawn Walker and the boy brought back to Canada.

Both were "safe and well" and were found Friday morning in Oregon City, a community on the southern edge of Portland. 

Police alleged that the woman and her son "illegally entered the United States" and she would meet with investigators in Saskatoon "pending any legal action by U.S. authorities."

They said U.S. agency representatives were working with Saskatoon police to return the boy to a legal guardian.

The boy's father declined to comment.

A spokesperson for the Oregon City Police Department said their involvement was locating where Walker was staying and co-ordinating with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security,whichis leading the investigation in the U.S.

The department said it did not have further details to provide Friday afternoon.

Walker's mother, Theresa Walker, said she is elated to hear that her daughter and grandson were found safe.

"The past 15 days have been extremely difficult on our family and community," she said in a statement Friday. "We are extremely thankful to all those who helped with the search efforts."

Officials had saidWalker, who is from Okanese First Nation, was last seen at a business in Saskatoon on July 22. 

Her red Ford F-150 truck and personal belongings were later found at Chief Whitecap Park, near the South Saskatchewan River just south of the city, leading to concerns for her and her child's safety.

The Saskatoon Police Service said someone in the area also found her purse on July 23, which was turned in to the RCMP. 

Since then, RCMP have searched the South Saskatchewan River using land, air and water crews.

The Saskatoon police said earlier this week that officers were also going through Walker's cellphone records and banking history to find out what happened to her and her son. Police noted her cellphone was not among the personal items that were recovered.

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations, which represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan, had issued an Amber Alert for Walker, who's the federation's chief executive officer. It had also considered a reward for any information that led to her whereabouts. 

“At FSIN we know why First Nations women go missing and recognize that there are many complex issues that surround their disappearances," FSIN Vice Chief Heather Bear said in a statement Friday.

"This is clearly the case with Dawn and her son ... and we will be closely following the legal process with more details on this case eventually being made public."

Walker, who published a recent book under the name Dawn Dumont, is also a well-known Saskatchewan author and, this week, was named a finalist for the Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

Walker was nominated for her book “The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour” from Freehand Books, which is loosely based on the story of a group of Indigenous dancers who toured through Europe in the 1970s. 

"In 'The Prairie Chicken Dance Tour,' she manages to address a ton of difficult situations, you know, racism faced by Indigenous Peoples, touching on residential schools and the legacy of them, but does so in a way that the humour is foregrounded," said Kelsey Attard, the managing editor of Freehand Books, Thursday.

For two weeks, Walker's disappearance shook those who know her including former newspaper editor Heather Persson who oversaw Walker’s columns for several years at the Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post.

"She's known in so many different areas of the province, and communities in the province," Persson said Thursday from Montreal where she was attending a conference.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 5, 2022

-- With files from Cassandra Szklarski in Toronto

Mickey Djuric, The Canadian Press