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

Just Posted

Thanks to efforts by a Kelowna shelter and Elections BC, anyone who wishes to can vote in the 2020 BC Provincial Election, even if they don’t have a fixed address. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Kelowna group ensures people experiencing homelessness can vote

Shelter supervisor says voting ‘a fundamental right’ even for those without a fixed address

City Park, Oct. 23. Image: Lynn Morran
Snow forces tunnel closure under W.R. Bennett Bridge

Branches from trees are breaking and falling across City Park

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

Smithson Employment Law Corporation donated $10,000 to support Habitat for Humanity Okanagan's Lake Country build. (Habitat for Humanity Okanagan)
Habitat for Humanity Okanagan receives $10,000 donation

Smithson Employment Law Corporation donated to the charity

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The deer were allegedly shot within Princeton town limits, late at night. Black Press File Photo.
Armed man, in full camouflage, allegedly shoots deer in downtown Princeton

‘The list of charges goes on and on,’ said RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Most Read